Let’s be clear. Striving to reduce your carbon footprint is a noble goal but going 100% zero-waste and adopting a fully sustainable lifestyle widely advertised on social media is not realistic for most of us. Even if you make a successful eco-friendly switch in one area, other areas might simply be out of our reach.
- It’s impossible to grow your own food if you live in a multi-story building and have no access to land.
- Solar panels are not an option for renters of people in areas of low sun exposure.
- Not all of us can afford to switch to an electric car (although, I hope it going to change in the future) or even shop at a farmers market every week for that matter.
- A working mother of three can’t possibly have enough time to make every meal from scratch, leave alone other household necessities.
And yet, a glamourized zero-waste lifestyle we’ve been spoon-fed by social media influencers and companies selling zero-waste swaps makes us feel guilty for “not doing enough” for our planet.
So what are we to do?
The reality of sustainable consumption.
I have a couple of good news for you. First, you shouldn’t feel guilty as long as you are doing something that’s available to you.
The concept of unloading the responsibility onto consumers’ shoulders began to emerge back in the 90s after the UN introduced Sustainable Consumption (CS) at the Earth Summit. Although SC included government entities, corporations, and “educated consumers” in the global effort of reducing consumption of natural resources, changing the production cycle, and as a result following changes in consumption patterns, governments and corporations backed away hiding behind the consumer needs and wants.
In actuality, without the change in legislation, infrastructure, and market regulation we the consumers are stuck with what is available to us topped with constant propaganda and greenwashing making us think that we “make good choices”.
But the discussion of the consumer culture flaws is the whole other topic. For today, let’s just agree that as long as you are doing what is in your power – whether it’s buying groceries from a local market, taking your compost to a community garden, or switching to solar – it’s enough.
The next step you should be considering is to actually use your consumer voice and start writing to your local stores, politicians, or production companies about your ecological concerns and demands.
Offsetting your carbon footprint.
Not everyone knows that while we are stuck in the current consumer culture there’s still a viable solution for each of us to go carbon-neutral with a carbon offsetting option.
What does it mean?
Carbon offsetting means that you can buy an equivalent amount of environmental services to neutralize the carbon emission you produce.
There are many organizations around the world (mostly, of course, in Europe) that help you calculate your emission and distribute the funds to various environmental projects – from small groups to huge initiatives – in every corner of the planet.
Carbon offsetting has become a market in itself and has grown tenfold in the last decade and a half. This means that we now have multiple choices to fit our budgets and support the projects we feel are more important.
Here are a few organizations to look at if you think about offsetting your carbon emission:
Consumer voice matters.
While we are still at the edge of the climate crisis and feel like we have little influence on the necessary global change we must remember that each of our voices matters. Even if you are a regular Joe there are three things you can do that will have a major impact on global sustainability:
- Reduce your waste where you can
- Advocate for environmental legislations
- And offset your carbon footprint.