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Sustainability: it’s not about being perfect

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By Oli Cook, CEO and Co-founder, ekko

Oli Cook, CEO and Co-founder, ekko

Are you someone who feels like your lifestyle could be more environmentally friendly? Most of us do… especially when you consider what’s been happening in the news  recently. 

Our planet is undeniably facing tough times, and we can no longer ignore this collective challenge. This can often lead to feelings of shame and inertia. 

We all need to do more, but how? 

It’s not easy: Why do people find sustainable living hard?

The majority of us want to learn how to live more sustainably. But it’s not easy. And with an emphasis on working towards a ‘zero-waste culture’, there is often social pressure that we aren’t doing enough.

Is less waste good enough? Are better choices good enough?

For others, eco-friendly living doesn’t feel attainable. According to Deloitte’s study on sustainability and consumer behaviour, people say they struggle to make changes as it’s too expensive, inconvenient, complicated and time-consuming.

Progress, not perfectionism: taking small steps in the right direction 

Humans are creatures of habit. Many behaviours, such as how we commute to work, what we buy, what we eat, and how we dispose of products and packaging, are just part of our regular routines.

But the climate emergency can lead many of us to be challenged by an all-or-nothing mentality. It shouldn’t be this way. Instead, it comes down to the old adage, ‘Progress Not Perfection’. Whenever you are looking to make lifestyle changes, small actions add up. 

You’re not alone either. Deloitte’s study found that in the last 12 months:

  • 61% of consumers have reduced their single-use plastic consumption
  • 34% have chosen brands that have environmentally sustainable practices/values
  • 30% have chosen brands that have ethical practices/values

It’s all about taking steps in the right direction towards better, more sustainable habits. 

If you could see your efforts and the results, would you feel different?

It’s often hard to tally up our efforts, and it can get confusing to know what we are actually doing to help. 

For example, does eating less meat offset the carbon emissions produced from driving your car? Will using reusable packaging and less plastic make up for the air miles you’re racking up?

Questions and mindsets like this are often the key source of feelings of guilt.

But what if we flip this idea on its head? Rather than feeling guilty about what you’re not doing… how would you feel if you could actually see the difference you are making? 

There are many ways to tangibly track your individual efforts and positive contributions, and see your actions in action. Would you find this motivating?

Big (and little) victories

Small actions we take add up to these big impacts. And there is no one way to be sustainable. Often, becoming more sustainable is about using what you already have, getting creative, and doing bits here and there; doing more with less.

Overcoming obstacles to making sustainable changes: what are you waiting for? 

While many people say the obstacle to being more sustainable is that it’s too expensive or time-consuming, there are so many ways to make an impact without having to make drastic changes or purchases.

Some card providers now offer schemes that plant trees or remove plastic from oceans with every purchase or transaction you make, which means that even your weekly shop can add up to positive impacts on the environment. This also means you can track and quantify your contribution towards a more sustainable future. 

Of course, it’s still important to consider making more sustainable choices where you can, but these schemes are a way to make an impact without any extra effort. And if you can switch to eco alternatives when you buy, it means your purchase can make an even bigger impact. 

It’s ok not to be ‘perfect’, and everyone’s sustainability journey will be different. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference, no matter how small. 

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