I arrived at work with a guilty conscience. I had a disposable coffee cup in hand, and I knew better than that. The lid would take 100s of years to decompose and I never knew if I could recycle the cup or not (apparently not because of the insulation inside the cup to handle the heat of the coffee).
There seems to be a lot of judgement when you start on the road to living mindfully. It seems that as soon as you start consuming more consciously, you’re suddenly held to a higher standard. You’re expected to know how to recycle, to give up eating meat, to only use a natural deodorant, to stop buying fast fashion.
This kind of elitist, high expectations culture that surrounds sustainable living is the very reason it still remains a niche movement. It’s the reason many of my friends shrug off sustainable living and comment “it’s nice how we’re so different”, implying that sustainable living is only for some.
I totally get it. Sustainable living isn’t always easy. We live in a world that is geared to make the sustainable option the hard option. I’ve written about the battle between being a citizen versus a consumer previously because it’s a very real struggle. From the moment we are born we are seen as a consumer; we’re a baby needing nappies, a toddler needing infant Panadol, a school child needing Back-To-School supplies. We’re spoken to more as a consumer than as a citizen in this world. And the world is set up in a way that makes the consumer option far easier to take than the citizen option.
Hense why I was using a coffee cup. I had left my first KeepCup at work because of how often I pop out to for a chai or long black. And I didn’t want to carry my other KeepCup because I didn’t have room in my bag, and knew I’d be stuck carrying it around all day, in between meetings and commuting on the bus. It would be a hassle and yet another thing I would have to think about.
It seems like a small conundrum, but it’s something I wanted to highlight early on this blog. We didn’t want to create another community that makes people who don’t measure up to a certain standard feel back. We wanted to this to be a place of honesty and openness. Where we celebrate the small steps rather than pointing the fingers and criticising the missteps.
I might be fanatical about buying ethical fashion, but I hope that none of my friends ever feel bad or embarrassed for buying something that isn’t ethical. I want to instead educate and encourage people so that if and when you make the decision to use a KeepCup or buy organic closed-loop bamboo undies, you’ve made that decision because you made that decision, not because you feel guilty and condemned by friends or peers.
So yes, occasionally I mess it up. I used a KeepCup, I cave and buy homewares from Kmart because they’re cheap and I can tell you now that many times I have the strongest urge to march into Zara and get the latest season military jacket or culottes because they’re so much cheaper than anywhere else.
I’m human. Lauren is human. We’re all human and fail from time to time. So instead of condemning each other, let’s journey together.