The biggest thing wrong with 95% of the social media posts I see about sustainability, is that they aren’t actually about sustainability at all – they’re about selling us an alternative that is “better” than our current option.
But is it better? Really, though?
I invite you to read on and answer that for yourself.
Let’s take switching from plastic to paper bags as our example.
Everyone seems to think this switch is the best thing to do, but, whether they know this or not, it really isn’t, as the environmental footprint is just as damaging, just in different ways.
We’re all aware that plastic ends up in the oceans, destroying marine-life, coral and surrounding wildlife, but are we aware that paper leads to more trees being cut down, (even if we plant new trees, they won’t function as well as mature trees for many, many years) they require 4x as much water for their production, and they’re heavier to transport, so more CO2.
And glass bottles over plastic? Well, glass is heavier to transport, so the carbon footprint is 40% higher.
See, the biggest issue is actually not about switching to alternative products, it’s about getting us all to USE LESS and create LESS WASTE.
It requires a shift in the way we buy, what we eat and what we consume as consumers, to not buying so much, and when we do, opting for eco, ethical and genuine sustainable products, and of course what we sell and offer as businesses.
This really is the only real solution, as it prevents waste in the first place, opposed to just a different kind of waste.
It all goes back to prevention over intervention – if, as social entrepreneurs we focus on driving change to prevent destruction happening in the first place, opposed to just intervening and cleaning up the mess, we can start to create change from the root.
Practically speaking, ways you can start to be part of the prevention right now, are opting for:
- Reusable cups/straws
- Travel sustainably
- Opt out of unwanted junk mail
- Grow your own food
- Cotton produce bags
- Shampoo/conditioner bars instead of bottles
- Reusable nappies
- Choose renewable energy
- Buy locally and buy products with less packaging
Among many other eco-friendly products.
If you’ve already joined the prevention movement, I’d love to know what products you’ve opted for over their plastic, waste-promoting counterparts!
Tell me in the comments…