The concept of sustainability is based on the principle that everything we depend on for survival and well-being depends on our natural environment, whether directly or indirectly. In order to achieve sustainability, we must create and maintain the human condition that will support the next generation. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
How being “sustainable and zero waste” became a trend?
That’s easy, social media is the answer. Sustainability is getting a lot of publicity due to the influx of sponsored videos and influencers promoting sustainable products. The thrift fashion or secondhand fashion niche is growing on YouTube as well, depending on where you live in the US and the UK. You will learn how to flip and transform clothing by replacing fast fashion hauls with thrifting hauls. In response, companies began reselling selected items of secondhand clothing for a higher price to consumers who don’t have time to spend digging in-store bins and are willing to pay a premium. People are now making a living by buying stuff in bulk and reselling them at higher prices using apps such as Depop, Poshmark, and a number of others. The purpose of thrifting has always been to resell and collect clothes for those who could not afford them at retail price, but now, much like sneakers, it’s somehow become gentrified.
Who’s to blame?
The blame always seems to fall on us, the consumers. In the end, we have to make the right choice to ride our bikes to work and to take shorter showers. We are not 100% responsible, and putting the majority of the blame on us is a shame. Earlier in the pandemic, when the industrial companies went into lockdown, people noticed animals roaming throughout the city and species reappearing because the environment had become so still. It’s capitalism that’s really at fault.
Is it meaningless?
As far as people are concerned, sustainability is meaningless in that they think it’s only about recycling, being thrifty, and being minimal. Those who believe in the philosophy of sustainability argue that living in a structure-filled world would render our world unsustainable. There is little to no structure, poverty, and dearth in general. Sustainable living isn’t completely meaningless because it has benefits, but I think it’s more about finding a connection between truly being sustainable and playing that role.
The change society needs
As of last year, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) and politician Ed Markey proposed a plan called the Green New Deal. The first idea is to completely stop burning fossil fuels as much as physically possible, which would mean that the way we run the economy would be completely different. Second, we need universal healthcare and job guarantees, as well as quality education and training for all citizens. This transition would be slightly difficult, but it is the chance society needs if it wants to live more sustainably.
What can you do instead?
If you feel as though you can’t make any real physical change, try leaning on an organization with a solid mission. Progressive international is one of the many organizations that aim to empower activists while connecting support from others.
The second thing you can do is to be more aware. It’s the beginning of learning something new. Sustainability cannot exist and has no implications. You don’t have to fit a certain aesthetic to live a simple life, and I think that’s the root of the problem. You don’t have to become a vegan, throw away all your clothes, or become completely zero waste. All it takes is moderation and an understanding of how much we deserve.