A Sustainability Update — September 2020

A brief recap

If you’ve been here for a while, you know that I don’t shut up about sustainability and minimalism. These ideas have consumed my year and fill up my YouTube recommendations daily.

To give a high level recap, in late 2019, I wrote up my sustainability goals for 2020.

  1. Think twice before buying anything.
  2. Buy items that will last longer.
  3. Take care of my stuff.

Then in March, I wrote a little sustainability update where I added another goal to my list and reflected on how the year had been going so far.

4. Switch to an all natural, chemical free beauty routine

Over the next few months, I was introduced to the idea of minimalism and how the culture of consumption really runs our lives. This then inspired me to write up a beginner’s guide to sustainability in June 2020.

Checking in

I wanted to do a little check-in on how things are going for me in this journey, what I’ve found easy and what I’ve found difficult. I’m gonna try and change it up and do a sort of retro as we call it in the tech world.

This journey has had its ups and downs, and if I’m being honest, a lot of my goals have become more of a crossover between sustainability and minimalism.

What’s worked well

  • Thinking twice before buying anything

In my opinion, this has been an awesome goal for my personal life. This goal has been really easy to follow and has stopped me from buying a lot of unnecessary things when I’m bored on my laptop. It has also motivated me to buy less stuff, which has helped me become more sustainable and live a more minimalist lifestyle.

  • Buying items that will last longer

If I do buy something, I’ve noticed that I tend to be more OK with spending more money on things that will last me a longer time. I used to search for the cheapest thing, and although I still sometimes do this, I find myself more interested in reading reviews on the product before buying it.

  • Taking care of existing stuff

This goal has manifested in really interesting and helpful ways as well. For example, I have a tendency to constantly look for new skincare products. I have a great skincare routine, and enough product left for a few more months. There have been many times when I’ve wanted to purchase a new skincare item, but this goal of taking care of my existing stuff has motivated me to continue using the products I have until they are finished, and then purchasing something new.

  • Not eating beef

I haven’t really talked about this, but I have successfully not eaten beef (for the most part I think!) in all of 2020 and I am pretty proud of this. I am not ready to give up pork, chicken or fish yet, but giving up beef has been a great step in the right direction for me in terms of both my physical health, and sustainability.

What could be improved

  • Switching to an all natural, chemical free beauty routine

I’m not gonna lie, this has been really hard. I don’t love that I made this new goal, and I might just take it out of my long term goals. As someone with acne prone skin, it’s really difficult for me to have an “all natural” routine, whatever that means. Not all chemicals are necessarily bad, and I think the products I am using use minimal chemicals that are not harmful.

  • Buying secondhand

In the past few months, I’ve been scouring secondhand websites like Poshmark, Depop and Thredup. I’ve added buying secondhand as part of my sustainability/minimalism goal, however, it has proven to be pretty difficult.

I haven’t been able to go to a thrift store, but shopping secondhand online is really frustrating because it involves a lot of time and patience. Often times, there will be something you kinda like, but then it might not be in your size. Or, you like an item and the quality of it is questionable.

This is something I want to get better at, and I have started making purchases for secondhand clothing. Overall, I think it is an awesome way to slow down your purchasing and buy things with more intention.

  • Understanding the clothing life-cycle

Recently, I watched a very interesting video on the fashion industry and the process by which an item gets created and sold to the consumer. I’ve realized that a lot of companies advertise sustainable practices, but if you go down to the cell level, a piece of clothing is comprised of so many different parts, and it is almost impossible to know whether each part of that clothing item is made sustainably.

For example, a lot of sustainable companies do indeed employ humane standards for putting together a piece of clothing, but do they think about how that fabric is being made? Are the buttons on that sustainable jacket coming from a factory where the workers are being treated fairly? There are so many little pieces from dyes to buttons to zippers to fabric that don’t get talked about when it comes to the clothing life cycle.

Over the rest of the year, I want to learn more about that and whether the companies who claim to be sustainable are actually doing their research on that small level for each of their clothing items.

  • Reducing food packaging

A couple months ago, I did a “packaging audit” of sorts where I wrote down all the things I interacted with that had non-recyclable packaging (it was a lot of stuff). I’ve realized that the majority of the packaging I interact with comes from food stuff. I don’t know if I’ll actually be able to commit to this goal, but I’d love to learn more about bulk purchasing, and actively choosing to buy more expensive things that come in more recyclable packaging.

Action items

Overall, these are the takeaways of my update. Hopefully I can continue making these changes throughout the year!

New things…

  • Be more patient when it comes to second-hand shopping
  • Learn more about the clothing life cycle
  • Reduce my purchasing of packaged foods

Keeping up the work…

  • Continue thinking twice before buying something
  • Continue buying high quality items
  • Continue taking care of my stuff
  • Continue not eating beef

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