don't buy your way into sustainability
When I think about living sustainably, my desired outcome is that I use as little as I can and that my actions result in the least possible unnatural waste. Living sustainably is often pitched as a white washed minimalist home where all kitchen utensils are wood. But nobody has homes like that unless they have bought the accessories to create a new 'sustainable' lifestyle. These 'sustainable' interior choices are expensive. Sadly with the popularity of green washing by big brands, sustainability has become an affordability issue where seemingly only the wealthy can afford to help the planet.
A case in point, is the latest John Lewis campaign. Titled 'Eco Friendly Swaps for Your Kitchen', this direct email campaign touts the importance of "Reusing, recycling and reducing". Great, right? So John Lewis is going to help us? What should we do, John Lewis, pray tell?
John Lewis: To make your home eco conscious you need to buy more things
Us: Shouldn't we be reusing and reducing what we have?
John Lewis: Well yes, but to do that you should first buy new things. Like storage containers to, um, store more things.
Us: Ok, storage seems sensible, are these eco storage containers made from sustainable materials?
John Lewis: We have some fantastic plastic storage solutions which will last for years. Also if you buy a range that aesthetically suits your home, you are less likely to change them. We have the latest Joseph collection, in contemporary colours
Us: So you have the latest colours? So when these colours aren't in vogue, should we come back again and buy the newest style?
John Lewis: Um, well lets talk about our recycling bins. They have different plastic compartments so its easier to sort. We have bins for every room.
Us: Great, we love recycling. Can we have one for the kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom?
John Lewis: Absolutely, that will be £320 please.
Sustainability should not mean 'purchase more to be sustainable'. It means, take a look at what you already have and make informed choices about how you reduce waste. Don't chuck out your old tupperware to replace with new storage solutions. Use them until they are broken. Don't throw away your plastic cooking utensils, they will probably last you a lifetime. When something is beyond use then find an environmentally sound replacement.