Sustainability Looks Different For Everyone

Have you ever looked at your favourite eco-friendly Instagrammers and zero waste YouTubers and felt as though you're not doing enough? I certainly have. The thing is, however, social media is a curated collection of the things we chose to share with other people. What we see online is not always the full story. We don't see the mistakes and failures unless someone chooses to share them with us.

Comparison is the thief of joy, and it certainly won't help you do the best you can. Everyone is at a different stage in their journey, everyone has a different situation, different circumstances, different skills. 

Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Some of us live with people who are resistant to an eco-friendly lifestyle, others have the unreserved support of those around them. Some of us live far from the nearest refill store, others have a choice locally. Some of us have community recycling and composting that make our choices straightforwards, others have to transport their waste to a facility. Some people live with a disability or chronic illness that means we require items that others consider wasteful, others have more choice over what they do or don't need. Some of us can source local ingredients and cook everything from scratch, others have dietary, energy or time restrictions and have to buy ready-prepared or individually packaged items.

None of us are doing it wrong. Sustainability isn't a binary thing. We are all doing what we can as individuals, knowing that collectively, we're making an impact. If we strive for perfection, we are destined to fail. We're more likely to burn out and give up than we are to reach an impossible goal. 

Small steps. That's how we get there. We do what we can for where we are in life. 

Few of us will ever be the ones to fit our yearly waste into a mason jar, and that's more than okay. One person doing 100% of the work is never going to be as effective as 100 people doing 50%. If every adult in the UK refused just one unnecessary plastic item each year, that's 4.6 million fewer plastic items in circulation. When you multiply small steps by collective action, you can see massive change. In the words of Shelbizlee, "you cannot do all the good the world needs, but the world needs all the good you can do."

So, the next time you feel bad for, well, anything outside of your control, remember that sustainability is different for everyone, and only you know what your journey will look like.