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Imperfect Environmentalism and Shopping Consciously

Updated: May 17, 2021

Nowadays, it can be quite difficult to live a sustainable lifestyle. It can be quite troublesome to shop sustainably without having to change certain aspects of your lifestyle. Our society has been designed around consumerism and the ability to obtain what you want with one click or swipe. This can make abstaining from wasteful and unnecessary products quite difficult. However, understanding the concept of imperfect environmentalism, tips on how to avoid some of the biggest environmental mistakes, and how to shop consciously, it is possible to live more sustainably.

Imperfect environmentalism sounds a bit counterintuitive, as one would expect that perfectionism would be the key to such an intricate ideology. However, it is actually more beneficial to have hundreds of people practice imperfect environmentalism than to only have a handful of people practice perfect environmentalism. When visualizing a life of sustainability and/or veganism, one may envision the consumption of only plant-based products, producing no waste, and only using reusable materials. Although that may seem appealing, it is not always possible to achieve this way of life. There are many barriers such as socioeconomic factors, health issues, and availability of certain products. The concept of imperfect environmentalism states that it is acceptable, and even encouraged, for one to not always be perfect. Instead of going all out and completely changing your way of life, make sure to keep in mind that it’s fine to make mistakes and take things one step at a time. Sometimes, the pressure of being perfectly sustainable or being a perfect environmentalist drives people away from taking their first step. However, the thought of making small changes and tweaks to one’s lifestyle and gradually increasing sustainability is a lot more bearable. This will not only make the transition easier for most beginners, but it will also draw more people to the movement. The main idea behind this ideology is that everyone will go through different experiences with the same goal of becoming more green.

Likewise, another topic related to imperfect environmentalism is consumerism and how to shop consciously. Nowadays, many trends, holidays, and events are all somewhat based around consumerism, meaning products are promoted and people are encouraged to buy them. When shopping for food, many people take into consideration the expiry date, and the nutritional facts. When shopping for clothes, people take into account the current trends, the size, and how it will look on them. Yet, it is rare for others to consider the ethics and environmental impacts of these products. Before purchasing a product, you should contemplate whether or not you actually need it, and how often it will be used. Equally as important, is to use what you have now, before purchasing more. If you have a functional laptop, it wouldn’t be necessary to purchase the latest model of a desktop computer. Also, keep in mind even if you have an object that is not reusable instead of immediately purchasing the renewable alternative and throwing out what you have, use what you have, and then transition to renewables for the future.

Moreover, the fashion industry is one of the leading causes of consumerism. With trends forming and fading faster than a blink of an eye, many people throw away their unworn clothes as the trend falls. Instead, donate these items to local thrift stores, homeless shelters, or even pass them down to someone with a similar style. When looking for certain articles of clothing, it would be practical to first visit thrift stores and local stores. Furthermore, when purchasing any product/merchandise, it is important to research the brand beforehand and ensure that they are both ethical and environmentally friendly. After checking off the above requirements, make sure the product is of good quality and that it is sustainable. This means that the material is biodegradable, produced in an eco-friendly manner, and able to last for long periods of time. Examples of this could include clothing made of linen, hemp, and bamboo.

All in all, the journey to becoming more sustainable is not always black and white, after all, sustainability is a spectrum. There is always room for improvement, and everyone will move at their own pace. Sustainability is also very scarce with consumerism being so prominent and in order to counteract this, try to purchase brands and materials that are known to be more sustainable, and only purchase items that are necessary. Remember that being imperfect in environmentalism is perfection in and of itself.


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