What actually stops us from taking action to protect the environment? The majority of people, when asked, say that they do care about the environment, so let’s tackle those myths which make us deaf to calls to change the way we live.
Myth 1: Living a Sustainable Life is ridiculously expensive
Fact: There are initial costs of buying planet friendly products, but these costs are usually offset in the long term.
Not only is living a sustainable life not ridiculously expensive, in many cases it actually ends up being cheaper than alternatives!
Most changes that we make will require an initial cost - whether it's to invest in a keep cup,stop using plastic bags or to grow an indoor garden.
Sometimes that cost is much more than we might be used to paying for an item, or it's a cost which normally isn't passed onto customers (looking at you plastic bags and takeaway coffee cups). The true cost of these items isn't just the price the business' pay, it's the introduction of the mentality that these items have no value and can be thrown away wiht little impact.
However investing in items that aren't made for a single use will save us money in the long term.
Caption: Paying small amounts for a disposable item will add up! Source: Shutterstock
If I normally buy a box of tampons every month for $8, and buy a menstrual cup to use for $40, it will only take half a year before I am saving that $8 every month. Another example is our homemade deodorant recipe While the initial price of buying the ingredients will be more than a $5 spray can of deodorant, making the homemade version in bulk will offset the cost.
Prioritising sustainability saves us in the long run.
Myth 2: Living a Sustainable Life is boring
Popular culture perpetuates the myth of the angry-hipster-vegan; someone who doesn't get out very much, eats a lot of lentils and is the butt of heaps of jokes. But this stereotype doesn't have to reflect reality.Fact: Living differently will make you stand out, but not in a bad way.
Saying no to straws at the pub, using a keep cup or carrying around your own cutlery is something that your friends, family and local barista are likely to notice. But rather than drawing out antagonism, most people will be curious.
Living a sustainable life won't give people a negative impression of you, but the way you respond to their curiosity will. The real reason for the antagonism towards people trying to live in an eco-friendly way is that people feel threatened or guilty. But it doesn't have to be that way. If we are willing to talk openly and answer questions about the small choices we make, you can go a long way in helping them see why you've made those choices, and maybe even make them for themselves.
Myth 3: Living a Sustainable Life won't make a difference
This is a myth that makes me the angriest, because it is so damaging to attempts to protect the environment. It's a myth that I hear from my Dad when he watches me washing my keep cup in the evenings, and my friend when I choose to by an apple from the super market rather than a packet of chips in a plastic bag. They seem to think it's cute that I'm changing how I live, but that it's not going to go beyond me.
Fact: Together we can change the world
The truth is that we live in a world of such a large scale that the actions of one individual, if they are the only one, won't make any difference. There are 7 billion people on this earth, and whether or not I turn all the lights off as I leave the house won't actually make a difference to the snow melting in the arctic.It's true. By myself, I'm powerless. It's like trying to push a mountain into the sea. But there are 7 billion people in the world, imagine what we could do if we were all united against climate change.
On more practical terms, we live in a society motivated by self-interest. Businesses choose to make products using the cheapest materials that are often terrible for the environment, because they know we are willing to buy them. If (when!) we boycott those businesses they will invest in environmentally friendly alternatives.
And even though we're not there yet, there are so many people doing amazing things to protect the planet. We have so many resources available and we need to remember that we're all in this together.
Myth 4: Living a Sustainable Life is for someone else
It's great that you: eat vegan/avoid plastic bags/recycle/turn off lights/insert other environmentally friendly action here - but it's not really my kind of thing. I don't have the: time/will power/finances/knowledge/right situation/insert other excuse here.
Fact: Saving the planet really does need all of us.
No matter what our life looks like, if we live on a farm or in an apartment in the middle of a city, if we are old or young, have a small or big family, have always cared about the planet or are only just realising it now: we all have a role to play.
There are 7 billion people in the world, but if we all just assume that someone else will change the environment in our place, then nothing will get done.
Images: Pixabay. Cover image: Shutterstock.