The Climate-Friendly Life is a series focusing on the successes and challenges we each face when trying to make climate-friendly lifestyle choices. No matter where you are on this journey from eco-curious to winning zero waste, it’s all good and we wanna hear about it. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to share your story with the We Are All Gen E community.
My name is Kristin, and I am addicted to shopping.
Clothes. Shoes. Home decor. Beauty items. You name it. I love buying things that I think will serve as a means of expression, improve an aesthetic, bring a breath of fresh air to an area, or fulfill something I’m missing (that’s a topic for another day).
While I’m busy filling that void, my addiction is indirectly (though none the less significantly) filling landfills everywhere. It was very difficult to come to terms with this truth. It was like going through the stages of grief: denial (no, I’m not doing anything wrong), anger (what, so I’m supposed to just stop shopping?), bargaining (maybe if I make eco-friendly choices in other areas I can stick with my normal shopping routine), depression (shit. It may not be intentional, but I’m still contributing to a problem. And now I have to stop my favorite thing), and finally, acceptance (okay. My actions are hurting the planet, but there are steps I can take to turn that around and help).
If I’m being honest, things didn’t magically improve overnight. If anything, the more educated I became, the more overwhelmed I was. There are so many questions to ask that I find I’m spending more time trying not to be wasteful… that I’m wasting time. And wouldn’t wasting time be counterproductive to this cause? I needed to find efficient solutions that would help my efforts to cut down on waste and just do them, so as to effectively cut down on physical and figurative waste.
Ultimately, having an awareness is key. Once you begin to understand your own wasteful practices, you take the first step towards improving your behavior. It is something that requires consistent awareness in order to make an impact, but just like a regular workout schedule will produce results, the perseverance is worth it. I found that starting with small steps turned into wanting to do more. For example, I always recycled, but I decided to become educated on my borough’s recycling standards so I knew I wasn’t creating more waste. I also utilize reusable shopping bags and straws. Those plastic grocery store bags add up and I don’t care how profound that scene from American Beauty was, I don’t see a positive spin on anything that physically cannot be broken down.
I love coffee and will go to great lengths to keep my addiction at a reasonable cost. K-cups are bad for the environment because they cannot break down, but I also feel they’re not cost-effective. I bought a dishwasher-friendly reusable K-cup in which I can scoop my coffee. I also upgraded to a Nespresso machine and was happy to learn that their pods are recyclable. I purchased laundry detergent in sheet form, which not only cuts down on unnecessary chemicals, but there is no longer a huge plastic bottle that will ultimately not be recycled due to the remnants left inside.
Find Your Reason
We should want to take care of our Earth, both for our well-being and for our descendants. If that isn’t reason enough, we should do it because this Earth has been our home and has taken good care of her inhabitants since the dawn of time. Take a few small steps, and I promise you’ll feel good about your actions. I swear on my (unfortunately plastic) American Express card.