We often speak about the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle, as it pertains to the effects it has on the environment, but we rarely stop to consider its transformative effects on our own lives.
To clarify, sustainability, in very broad terms, means regulatory laws, actions and behaviors aimed at avoiding the depletion of natural resources and the maintenance of ecological balance. Its main pillars – economic, environmental, and social, also known as profits, planet, and people – need to coexist in harmony.
If this is not the case, as we have seen in the last decades, unsustainable agriculture, fisheries, exploitation of natural resources, mining and energy use are leading to unprecedented habitat loss, deforestation, pollution and climate change. Simply put, in order for life to flourish and survive, we need healthy communities, clean air, natural resources and unprocessed foods, and a nontoxic environment. All of these aspects have been altered to various degrees around the world and we are already paying the price.
On a personal level, I always think of sustainability in terms of “how I can live a life that leaves behind few traces of me after I’m gone?” and since I have started this journey of a conscious, deliberate and sustainable lifestyle, I have noticed that the benefits go far beyond recycling, reducing waste, planting trees and reducing my plastic usage. If anything, my life has improved considerably.
Before I go into telling you exactly how, I would like to present to you a social business that I have been following for a while, whose founders I personally know and that are doing exactly the things I speak so often here on the blog: Mozaique. They reached out to me to collaborate and create educational posts that we hope will help and inspire you to gradually integrate sustainable habits into your daily routine, whilst making it easy for you to make sustainable choices.
There are many reasons why I support them and encourage you to do the same, but perhaps the most important is that they directly employ and pay upfront their artisans and craftsmen from Guatemala and Romania.
Not only do they enable the continuation of heritage craftsmanship, but directly support local communities whose work has been delegated to industrialization and machines. Together with the artisans, they design and create beautiful rugs, kitchen towels, masks and blankets (as of yet) with a modern flair, crafted by hand using locally sourced materials and traditional weaving techniques, with zero waste. So I really hope you will visit their website, their shop, and keep them in mind before purchasing something for your home or perhaps, a new face mask. They are currently having a sale on certain items and free shipping over $99.
Okay, so let’s dive right in!
You develop critical thinking skills
As conscious consumers, we continually educate ourselves to make better choices for ourselves and our planet. This involves lots of research, reflecting, analyzing and comparing between different products, packages and ingredients, processes and systems, as well as taking action. All of these, alongside problem solving and decision making are fundamentally, skills needed in order to be able to think critically.
This ability serves us well, not only when we choose between a plastic bottled ketchup or a glass one, but in all aspects of our lives, and the more we practice it, the less we are influenced by marketing strategies, trends, sales and persuasive techniques.
We become more in control of our day to day choices, and less swayed. To me, this is freedom. This is character building.
Matching our lifestyle with our values and our choices with thoughtful consumerist habits is one of the most powerful things we could do for ourselves to improve our livelihoods and help our planet. And the more we research and educate ourselves, and employ critical thinking skills in the process, the more we will be able to find and adopt creative solutions to all our problems, whether personal or global.
You learn to postpone gratification
One of the best outcomes of living a sustainable lifestyle is that you learn to wait.
In our high speed, fast paced consumerist societies, we’ve been taught to expect and want things instantly. However, as we move towards a more thoughtful and sustainable lifestyle, we find that taking a step back and evaluating our day to day big and small purchases through the lens of long-term sustainability becomes the most natural and simple thing to do. This, of course, turn us into thoughtful consumers.
Suddenly, that 4.99 tshirt is of no interest to us. Or, we find that we are devoting time to scouring the online second hand boutiques and local thrift shops for garments made of natural materials like silk, linen, wool, cotton and cashmere, knowing that they will last longer, we save them from the landfill and will feel and look better on us.
Sometimes, a well curated purchase that will last a long time, supports a local businesses and is made by a local artisan will cost more, which means that we might have to plan for it and save accordingly, thus waiting to make the purchase at the right time. But the wait will be all worth it.
Same goes with home decor and household items. It might take a while for us to find at our local thrift store the exact bed frame or dresser we need, or we might have to save up a little bit more before we purchase an item from a locally owned store that pays their workers living wages. Which, again, means that we have to wait. And you know what’s truly wonderful about that?
It teaches you to stay with the frustration, to practice being patient, keep looking and make do with what you have in the meantime. Your home stops being filled with lots of meaningless items that fulfill your needs on the spot, but are unable to do so long term due to their lacking in quality and multi-functionality.
Sustainability teaches you to adopt a purposeful approach in all aspects of your life.
You save more money
As we slowly curate our style, our home and our items, investing more and more in fewer but better quality products, we find that, unsurprisingly, we save more money on the long run.
The reason for this is simple: we stop buying low quality items and start investing in more expensive but better quality, that can be washed and used, again and again, without losing their properties or intrinsic qualities.
For example, instead of purchasing 4 or 5 cheap, polyester kitchen towels, we invest in 1 or 2 made of natural fiber, that wash well, do well under intense use and get better in time. They will also biodegrade naturally when they finally reach the landfill. Because this is what they’re supposed to do: last for as long as possible and serve you well.
The same goes with furniture items, decor and household products. To afford and invest in better quality, often times we need to minimize, which leads us with more space, more brain power and more money in our bank accounts because we won’t need to replenish and change these items that often. We will also treasure and cherish them better, because we invested more in them.
You feel good
It is a most wonderful feeling to look around your home and notice all of the objects you’ve accumulated over the years through careful consideration; from local artisans and artists you’ve discovered during your travels, or from local businesses that sustain creative endeavors and local communities.
Each piece curated, selected and chosen with care, used and loved well. At times, these pieces become heirloom pieces that can be passed on to friends, family and relatives. Your style becomes truly personal and your own. You own few things, thus freeing room for more activities and less upkeep and cleaning.
And isn’t amazing to see and feel the joy in the eyes of an artisan from which you’ve purchased a hand made item, knowing the time, the care and artistry they’ve put in it? nothing beats this feeling for me.
In the end, in helping and supporting others, small businesses that do good and aim high, we help ourselves.
I hope you make at least one thoughtful and conscious choice this week. I hope you start looking at each item you are purchasing through the lens of long term use, packaging, ingredients, cost, manufacturing process, and simply and gradually integrate more sustainable habits into your life.
*Photo by Alena Koval from Pexels.com