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Do What You Can, If You Can

The anxiety inducing world of sustainability.

By Shae MorenoPublished 2 years ago 6 min read
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Do What You Can, If You Can
Photo by Angela Compagnone on Unsplash

I remember the moment I first became concerned about the state of our oceans. I was six and had just seen a commercial on Disney Channel about recycling plastic and they mentioned that you should be cutting up your six pack rings and showed how a dolphin's mouth can get stuck in one. Twenty years later and I still credit that commercial for why I insist on breaking every six pack ring to pieces. Looking back on this girl, it's not surprising that I am the way I am now. Environmental activist at six, vegetarian at nine, marine biologist wannabe by twelve; I definitely had a certain vibe growing up.

As I've gotten older, and have access to more than Disney Channel commercials to base my environmental stance on, it's a lot more challenging and daunting and down right anxiety inducing to be informed. I'm learning new things every day it seems about what is best for the environment (and us!) and it can be extremely overwhelming. Especially now, in the age of social media, you're kind of damned if you do damned if you don't. I know I've seen so many people who have shared their journey in discovering an "alternative" lifestyle and living low waste or zero waste or even just sharing sustainable swaps everyone can make to help make the planet a better place and it's almost always a mixed bag of responses to them. Anything from love and support to kindly educating them on a different swap they could make to completely bashing them for not doing enough or not doing it the right way.

There is a lot of pressure for people who consider themselves eco-friendly. If you care about the environment there will always be someone who swears they care about it more than you do and will tell you the top 100 things you are doing wrong. After years and years of anxiety about "not doing it right" I'll be the first one to tell you; you are doing just fine. There is no right or wrong way to help our planet. If your intentions are pure, you are helping. It took me a very long time and a lot of pressure to realize that doing something different is better than nothing. I don't always have to get it right, but I can try.

By Jon Tyson on Unsplash

If you're having eco-anxiety or eco-fatigue, I'd like to share a few simple things you can do now (or tomorrow or next week, no pressure) to take a step in the right direction.

Find a Reusable Water Bottle

In America, 70 million plastic water bottles are used daily. The simplest step to becoming more eco-friendly is replacing that habit with a reusable product. It can be that single use bottle refilled again and again or it can be the fancy reusable bottle of your dreams, it really doesn't matter. I used a mason jar for years until I found the bottle that I really enjoyed using. That's another thing! Find a bottle you'll like using for its entire lifetime. There's glass, metal, plastic, wide mouth, straw, twist top, pop top, 16 ounces, 64 ounces; the options are endless! It's okay if you have to buy a couple to find the one you like for all the time. It's going to be with you for a very long time, so take the time to find what you like.

Abandon Fast Fashion

If you're a shopper like me, this could be the hardest to commit to. And that's okay, just give it a try. Fast fashion is responsible for more carbon emissions than people realize. (It's also just a terrible industry and the workers deserve so much better but I digress!) Slow fashion is more expensive, but there are other options. Thrift stores, online communities like Depop and Etsy, shop local, raid your mom's closet; all of these are better than fast fashion. I'll be the first to admit that I will grab a pair of shorts at Target if I need them, but I've found that after coming face to face with the repercussions of fast fashion I want to shop so much less. I will save the money to buy a pair of leggings made from recycled water bottles instead of buying a pair that will last three wears from wherever. Again, you don't have to be perfect about it. You can buy something if you want it, I just think once you become aware of it you'll at least think twice.

Switch Sunscreen

Summer is upon us and that means getting outside! It also means wear your sunscreen! This step is simple, next time you go buy sunscreen buy one that is reef safe. There are chemicals in the typical sunscreen that are harmful to the ocean and bleach coral. Most stores have a reef safe option and they say it on the bottle. If you want to go a step further, you can make your own mineral sunscreen at home. I personally get the Bare Republic brand from Target. It's nice and lightweight. And it smells nice.

Use More Dish Towels

This one is fairly simple. Most people have dish towels, hand towels, or washcloths in their home. (If you don't, I recommend buying some. They're very handy.) The idea is to gravitate towards them rather than a paper towel. It's not always a possibility to switch to un-paper towels or to all dish towels all the time. It is possible to use them more than you were before.

Be Aware of What Is Going Down Your Drain

This is a big one for the health of our oceans. Look at what products you keep in the shower, your laundry soap, your cleaners; anything that goes down a drain in the house. If it's harmful, don't buy it again. Make that switch when you're able to. My biggest wishlist item right now is a microfiber collector you put in the washing machine. I know I can't afford it right now, but after reading about the micro-plastics that get released every time I do laundry I'm hyper aware of it. Making the switch to greener products for self care and cleaning is a simple way to help our oceans.

By Photo Boards on Unsplash

It's so easy to get discouraged when you're trying to switch things up to become more eco-friendly. Just remember that there is no wrong way to help. If you use one less single use water bottle this year, that's a big deal! If you bought a winter jacket from a sustainable fashion brand instead of fast fashion, that's a big deal! If you made the switch to mineral sunscreen, that's a big deal! If you haven't bought paper towels in three months, that's a big deal! If you made your own all purpose cleaner this year, that's a big deal! If you are doing what you can when you can, you are helping. There is no wrong way to care. Just caring at all is a big deal.

Sustainability
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Shae Moreno

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