does sustainable living lack accessibility?

August 28, 2019

In some instances, the rhetoric behind sustainability can be marginalising. @katelunaaa wrote a great post highlighting the problems with the eco-movement, which you can read here. In a similar way, I just wanted to have a little chat about how not implementing certain aspects of eco-living into your lifestyle does not automatically mean you’re being lazy.

I’ve done it, I’ve liked those tweets that shit on meat-eaters for not caring about the environment, and I’ve judged people for buying clothes they’ll never wear. It’s ridiculous, it comes from a place of privilege I was forgetting I had, and it needs to stop.

Ultimately, our capitalist society is the reason for the climate emergency. The reason the Amazon is being burned is for profit, and the reason the richest and most powerful people in the world won’t fund the Amazon’s protection, is because they benefit from it, and the same goes for every big contribution to climate change.

Since 1988, over 70% of carbon emissions have been produced by just 100 companies, mostly consisting of large fossil fuel companies like Shell and BP, and these companies all know they’re contributing to climate change, but they’re still making profit, so they don’t care.

And it’s all well and good to say that the best thing to do is to not contribute, start using public transport, invest in slow fashion, and stop eating meat, but some people don’t have the money or time to do things like that.

You can argue that veganism might even be cheaper than buying meat products, but that does not factor in the time it takes to research your diet probably, buy the supplements you need, find the right stores, learn how to cook new meals etc etc.

If a person is working all day, and doesn’t have much money, becoming vegan can be a huge lifestyle change that takes up a lot of time, and so they shouldn’t be judged for not being able to make the eco-friendly choice. Just because it can’t be their priority, doesn’t make them a bad person.

When it comes to sustainable fashion, it’s easy to say that buying less clothes, and then spending money on good quality items, is a better investment. It’s something I completely agree with, but it’s easier said than done.

If you come from a place of privilege, it’s likely you already have a few good quality items in your wardrobe. But what about the people who don’t? If their only nice pair of jeans break and they have somewhere to be the next day, they’re going to pop into the nearest Primark, not spend £55 on a pair of jeans online that might not even fit when they arrive five days later.

Sustainable brands are expensive, so the alternative is buying second-hand.

Buying new is a luxury for some people. I love vintage stores and charity shopping, but if I’d grown up having to wear second-hand clothes, would I still want to shop there? Maybe not.

Of course, just because someone grew up in a low-income family doesn’t mean they’re not now living an eco-friendly life. I’m just saying that everyone has their reasons for how they live. I’ve heard a lot of shaming language when it comes to fast fashion and eating meat, and I’ve even added to it in the past, but making someone feel embarrassed because they shop at Zara isn’t going to make them want to learn about what greenwashing is.

All in all, if you have the time and the funds to be kinder to the environment, do it. That’s amazing and you’re doing an amazing thing! But if you’re judging someone for not doing the same, ask yourself whether you’re being eco-friendly for the planet or to boost your ego.

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