Common Sustainability Myths

Trying to live a more eco-friendly life might seem daunting at first, especially when it means changing familiar routines or embracing new products. It may be hard to explain to family and friends why you’re purchasing items from new places or rejecting conventional things like plastic silverware and takeout coffee cups.

It’s also normal to experience a sense of mourning over old habits. There’s a certain comfort that comes with routine, and making changes can feel uncomfortable. Nostalgia may also play a role, and you may be tempted to continue doing what you’ve always done.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Transitioning to a simpler, more thoughtful life has wonderful benefits and brings a new array of exciting foods, services, and products to try. It’s important to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. Over time, small adjustments add up to big results.

Below are five myths about sustainability that you may encounter.

“I can’t have nice things anymore. I’ll have to settle for old or secondhand items from now on.”

It’s hard not to be influenced by ads promoting beautiful, new, stylish products. It’s normal to want these desirable things for yourself. The truth is, sustainability doesn’t mean never having nice things. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: the sustainable lifestyle promotes buying better items and keeping them for a longer period of time. Instead of buying a shirt you plan to wear only once, choose a more expensive, better-made option that will bring style and value for years to come.

Secondhand items aren’t all bad, either; there are many consignment stores now selling very gently used items at a fraction of the original price. When you realize the money you’re saving, the secondhand concept becomes much easier to embrace.

“I will seem rude not giving conventional gifts.”

A gift isn’t about the fancy packaging. The best gifts come from the heart, and it’s the thought that counts. These phrases sounds silly and overused, but they are true.

If you find yourself in this situation, explain to family and friends that you’re embracing a greener lifestyle and that they should expect less wrapping paper and greeting cards in the future. When you do give a gift, consider alternative materials for wrapping, such as parchment paper, cloth bows, or gift bags that can be used again. Call a family member and wish them a happy birthday instead of mailing a card. Purchase a gift from a sustainable vendor or choose a gift certificate. You can still give awesome, meaningful gifts while making less waste.

“Social events will be difficult from now on.”

They don’t have to be. If you’re in charge of planning an event, try a new restaurant or activity that aligns with a green lifestyle. If you always order take-out pizza for your movie nights, try making a pizza instead. Open up the conversation with family and friends about your new choices: chances are, they’ll be interested in what you have to say. True friends will offer support and respect for decisions you make to better yourself.

“I don’t have enough time.”

This is a big one. When you break the cycle of disposable quick-fixes, you’ll be surprised at how much more time you actually have. Higher-quality items need repaired less, which frees up precious time. The less things you own, the less things that will need serviced, updated, or cleaned. Simplicity often encourages efficiency.

“What I do doesn’t make a difference. I’m only one person.”

Not true! Any small effort matters, and when an effort is multiplied by many people, it can change the world. Don’t get discouraged.

When you begin realizing the problems with some mainstream goods and services, it can feel disorienting, disappointing, and overwhelming. As you move along this journey, it definitely becomes easier (and more exciting) as you begin to rediscover quality and simplicity.

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