Look, I get it, the first thing you think about when you want to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle is to make all the eco swaps you can and replace all your products with greener alternatives. I have been there too. But We need new resolutions to protect the environment.
If you really keep your goals in mind and that you know that you want to be more sustainable, then it’s important to think bigger. We all struggle with knowing what steps to take and that is normal so let me give you a few ideas to go further.
We Need New Resolutions To Protect The Environment, we can’t afford to wait anymore
Have you noticed that some people are very stubborn about changing their habits? As a result, they blame governments and big corporations for being so polluting. They use it as an excuse to not change.
I remember once, having lunch with my family and discussing my choice to embrace a vegan lifestyle. I was explaining that I do it for the animals but also for the environment. Their reaction was as expected very defensive. They expressed that their diet change would be a marginal improvement compared to oil and gas industry stopping their activities. They argued that as long as governments do not come with laws to forbid corporations to emit so much, there was no point in them reducing their own. So they do NOTHING.
Their behaviour and reactions are absurd, selfish and come from a deep fear to change their lifestyle. That drives me crazy to realise that people just wait to take actions about climate change and it takes me a lot of work to not pressure them. We need to understand that not everyone is ready to change and that people are not at the same stage of their sustainable journey.
As much as I hate their way of thinking, I must admit that in some ways they are right.
Taking individual actions is not enough
We have not dented the carbon curve yet. It means that even though more and more people try to take actions to reduce their impact, it is not enough. Scientists explain that situation with what they call the rebound effect.
“The rebound effect refers to the idea that some or all of the expected reductions in energy consumption as a result of energy efficiency improvements are offset by an increasing demand for energy services, arising from reductions in the effective price of energy services arising from those improvements. “ Source
In simple words, let’s say that you stop buying new clothes to be more sustainable. There is no denying that in the first place, you consume less energy because no energy is required to produce that new piece of cloth. However, as a result, you save money and you might use that extra money for a weekend getaway and drive 300km. That is a rebound. You save energy in the first place but end up using the same or more.
Do not get me wrong, we should all keep improving our individuals efforts to reduce our impact. It is very important that we change our lifestyles one step at the time to be more sustainable but we also need to develop new strategies to think bigger.
New Resolutions To Protect The Environment
Pressure corporations and governments
The main actors of pollution are industrials and corporations so pressuring them to adopt more eco-friendly and ethical practices is a powerful tool. One option is to buy green alternatives. The other is to ask brands questions about their practices and make purchasing decisions accordingly. Question them about their whole supply chain from sourcing to shipping to know if they are sustainable or not. Do not hesitate to let them know if you are unhappy with some of their practices. Here are a few emails I sent, feel free to use them as a reference.
Other actors we should not forget are governments. They have the power to control corporations via laws so it is their choice to support free market and wild capitalism or to regulate the market to encourage sustainable practices. As a citizen, it is your right to vote for the government. Use that political power.
Encourage people around you
You are much more powerful than you think. Swapping for green alternative is only the beginning of you journey. But the ripple effect is real so encourage people around you to join you in your mission. If a million of us take a small action everyday, it will have a bigger impact.
Reduce you consumption
I know that it is daunting when we are new to sustainability. Buying green is a great start and you should be proud of you for taking that first step. However, keep in mind that you can’t’ buy your way to sustainability. The most ethical and eco options are always the ones you already got!
Those articles will help you reduce your consumption: Minimalist Vegan Lifestyle: How to Make the Switch and Why you Need to Watch “Minimalism” on Netflix.
As a conclusion I love eco swaps, they are great and we should all go for it! But let’s keep in mind that they are just a first step in our sustainability journey. Ultimately, I believe we would need new resolutions to protet the environment, such as: political actions, spreading the word and reducing our overconsumption habits.