Lately I’ve been feeling a bit lost. I’m running a business that inspires people to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, yet I facilitate consumption. This makes me feel in conflict with myself, as the concept of consumption does not contribute to a more sustainable world.
I know we all should consume less and differently, but where do we draw a line? Can you still buy a birthday gift for someone, even if it’s sustainable? And what about daily necessities such as a toothbrush? I think about every purchase I make and try to do it as sustainable as possible. But what is ok to buy and what isn’t? Should all consuming feel wrong, even if it’s a sustainable or organic product?
My work is led by a purpose; creating a better world. The past decade I’ve seen an enormous shift in society and I’ve been meeting more and more people who think and act likewise. Because the fact is, we need to do better as the results of our unsustainable behavior are showing more and more (e.g. climate change, the pandemic, war and increasing polarization just to name a few). And while many of us have good intentions, we still seem to judge other people when their behavior isn’t according to our own beliefs.
What I mean with this is when you choose to go sustainable, you need to go all in and live life accordingly. No exceptions. It’s either go in 100% or you can’t join the group. You are sustainable and don’t/barely consume, or you aren’t sustainable at all. So me running a sustainable business that facilitates consumption would technically not be possible. Or at least I get the feeling from our society that this isn’t possible. But if we look at our current world, is this realistic? Can we expect from people to no longer consume and should we feel wrong when we do? I’m opting for a middle path.
The middle path
Let’s face the facts: consumption is a behavior that will not go any time soon, as many of us are just not ready. It’s a drastic way of changing our current lives. Can we improve our way of consuming? Absolutely, by making it more sustainable. But are we able to switch our entire lifestyle all at once and say we don’t consume anymore at all or only consume our basic necessities? I don’t think that we’re there yet and that this ideal world is just not yet achievable in our current time of living. A nice example are our cultural habits, these are stronger than you think and cultural festivities such as birthdays or holidays are often ‘celebrated’ with gift giving. I can’t imagine that people won’t give birthday presents any more. At least not now.
So we need to come up with a middle path, an acceptable solution for our current time. Offering daily necessities and products that are either organic or sustainable and sustainable alternatives that stimulate less consumption as a whole. Think of switching to a shampoo bar instead of plastic bottles of shampoo, use Food Huggers to limit your food waste and drink organic wine instead of unethically produced wine. This will hopefully get people inspired to take their behavior to the next level and switch it to a more sustainable one.
As said, we need practical and simple solutions, to create space and time for the transformation the world is going through. Will my Earth Friendly gift boxes help? I do hope so. Am I still promoting consumption through my business? Yes. But I know I shouldn’t judge myself so hard on this matter, because it is what the world needs right now. I do hope that my concept however does become unnecessary at some point in the future, meaning that people don’t have to be inspired anymore because our lives and behaviors are sustainable already. But until that happens, I plan on helping with this transformation.