So I’ve realised my focus here has been a lot about plastic lately whereas in reality I am attempting a more holistic approach – supporting local shops, local suppliers, buying seasonally as well as reducing my single-use plastic consumption.
As with all things in life nothing is simple. This Zero Waster article details the negative impacts of plastic alternatives. Whilst I was aware of that the vast quantity of water required to produce cotton was problematic, it had never occurred to me that the sheer weight of glass containers would increase it’s footprint, thereby positing a case for squeezy bottle ketchup after all.
The bottom line is (SPOILER ALERT) all consumption comes at a cost, abs the single best thing you can do is limit how much needlessly acquire and dispose of.
It’s both frustrating and counter intuitive to consider that something entirely unnatural, that doesn’t decompose is the better choice, although we may yet be saved by this plastic eating fungus recently discovered in Pakistan. (I’ll hold off popping the champagne until we get a bit more info on that one though.)
I have been at pains to limit my seduction by the environmental devil that is the fast fashion industry for some time now. It must be confessed that I crumbled a fair few times through my last pregnancy, although I always make an effort to buy plenty of second hand items for myself and my little ones. The area I really struggle with, and one where I frequently overspend, is books. Whilst more than happy to buy second hand books most of the time, I feel obliged to support independent bookstores very regularly which obviously presents a conundrum with not buying new. At the farmer’s market you can be confident that whilst you are supporting smaller businesses you are making an ideal consumer choice in terms of carbon footprint, but the environmental benefits of using libraries and pre-loved books is an obviously better choice on the zerowaste path.
Local businesses and shops benefit society, they benefit the economy and in general have a much lower carbon footprint that chains. My mindful choice for this issue is to consciously curb my shopping habits but to happily continue to support small businesses, many local but also online artists, designers and crafters. Spending there supports a dream, invests in talent. buys a child’s school shoes and that money can go back into the economy again rather than an offshore bank account in the channel islands. As with all things in life, balance is best and the occasionally rule-breaking treat is absolutely fine too. Conscious shopping is often a privileged choice, not everyone is in a position to make.