I get the impression that some people believe they can shop their way to being green. They have a green epiphany and switch to buying organic, ethical, fair-trade, eco, and green products, but give little thought to how much they buy and why. It doesn’t help that so many products are marketed as ‘saving the planet’ and that it’s difficult to distinguish the greenwashed from the genuinely green. The problem is, going green is not about buying green, it’s about NOT buying.
Eco products still have an environmental impact
Irrespective of the green credentials of a product, it will still have an ecological impact. The production of organic cotton still uses vast quantities of water, many fair-trade eco toys have still been flown half way across the globe, and no matter how long a stainless steel water bottle lasts, it’s manufacture still involved a huge amount of energy.
How about becoming a minimalist or buying nothing at all?
I like the idea of becoming a minimalist, and every now and then, when feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff crowding my life, I binge on many of the great minimalist blogs out there. My favourite include Rowdy Kittens, Becoming Minimalist, and Be More With Less. But that could never be me. Second-hand shopping is recreation for the Little Eco family. I delight in collecting cute casserole dishes to recycle as pots and cannot resist small pre-loved pottery vases (despite owning over 30 already). I like stuff, yet I’m determined to find the balance between minimalism and my stuff ruling my life.
I also like the idea of buying nothing at all. I totally lost myself in the journey when reading 'Living the Good Life', a book about the six months Linda and her family bought nothing at all. But again, that’s not me. I doubt my neighbour would appreciate a goat in my small urban backyard.
We’ve tried buying nothing at all for a week, and then for a month, and learnt an incredible amount about how to decrease our consumption when doing so, but I reckon life would become challenging fairly rapidly beyond a month or so.
Besides, I enjoy working (although not as much as I currently am), and I think it’s only sensible that I share my earnings around by shopping. Shopping is also one of the ways I connect with, and support, my community (be it on-line or in real life) and I love being able to support a few of the increasing number of ethical and eco businesses out there. Of course I try and spend my money wisely by buying only what I truly need (or really, really, really, want) and by buying pre-loved when I can.
Buying new isn’t always bad
Buying pre-loved or doing without doesn’t always cut it. Buying new, for most of us, is a reality. I can’t do without at least one new t-shirt each summer and new shoes and underwear are a must (although I did score two as-new pre-loved pairs of Planet Shoes, my favourite shoe brand, a few years back). Then there’s the products that make it easier to be green: lunch boxes, drink bottles, reusable bags, reusable cups, and natural cleaning products and beauty products. I even recently bought a fandangle expensive plastic self-watering pot. Up until a few months ago I would have scoffed at the idea of buying a new imported plastic pot to grow food in (and I still feel a little cringy about it), especially given that I could make one from a free recycled bucket, but at this particular point in time, that pot is right for me. And i'm certain the 100s of bunches of rhubarb i'll pick from it over the coming years will counteract the energy that went into creating and transporting the pot.
This was all a long introduction to what i'm really trying to say...
I used to feel uncomfortable about promoting products within this blog, given that I believe the best way to be green is to reduce how much you buy. I've run the odd giveaway, and mentioned the odd brand, but each time i've felt a little uncomfortable.
However, I've decided I actually like the idea of helping to promote good products that make sustainable living easier. Particularly now that i'm working full time, I appreciate more than ever products that make it easier for me to be green.
I used to have my own home-based teeny business and I have friends that run eco businesses (like Heather from Sun Cooking Australia and Rachel from Raid My Wardrobe), so I know how challenging promotion can be for a small business. So i've decided I'm OK with promoting the odd product within this space. I hope you don't mind? Of course, i'll only be mentioning products that I use or Australian companies that have strong ethical and eco credentials.
And I promise to always be up front with you. If i'm provided a complimentary product to review, or a sponsorship fee, i'll reveal so.
Now that i've got that off my chest, I won't feel uncomfortable on Monday when promoting one of my favourite on-line eco stores - Biome. Pop back here on Monday for a giveaway of two products that make it easier for me to be green.