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Take the leap

  • 4 min read

How to shift your mindset to being more sustainable in your daily life

Everyone is talking about being more sustainable, ditching plastic, and ultimately making an effort to save the planet.
But what exactly does that entail? And where can you start? And does that mean you have to throw away your smartphone, sell your car, quit your job (because it’s not eco-friendly) and start munching kale? Well, no, but we have to admit a little time away from the phone and a little bit of plant nutrition never hurt anyone.
Here, at the Nudist, we decided to take a shot at explaining the shift in mindset that we all need in order to understand why it is so important to make these changes in our lives and how it’s not actually as painful as it sounds.

It feels very far away

It all starts with hearing about it on the news, through some friend, or reading about it: climate change, massive deforestation, unsustainable fishing practices, etc. But for those of us who live in cities (big or small) and get our food from supermarkets whose shelves never seem to empty out, it feels like something very far away. And that may explain why we don’t feel that sense of urgency that scientists and environmentalists are trying to inspire. But just because we don’t feel it, doesn’t mean we are not part of the problem. According to the UN Environment Programme, “estimates suggest that cities are responsible for 75 percent of global CO2 emissions, with transport and buildings being among the largest contributors”. Might want to turn down that A/C now. 

Blaming the big guys (and maybe rightfully so)

One thing you are inclined to say (as I have been in the past) is “it’s the corporations and the governments that have the biggest impact, they should fix it, not me”. And while this is not wrong, note that their incentives are different to ours.
But we do have power and a say in how they act.  For corporates, our buying and consuming power can ultimately lead to changes in corporate behaviour.  And for governments: via voting, face-to-face lobbying, messages to politicians, campaigning for candidates, etc can go a long way. We cannot just sit around and wait for change to happen, we have to elicit change. All those quotes about strength in numbers may be onto something after all.

So what can I do in my daily life that can make a difference?

Apart from political pressure, there are other steps we can take.  We just have to look at things differently.  Every purchase we make we should always reflect on where it will ultimately end up.  For example, think about your groceries. How much of it comes wrapped in plastic? I live in Tokyo, so for us, most of it comes in a plastic bag: fruits, veggies, spices, rice ...you name it, they slap some plastic on it.  Granted, Japan recycles most of its plastic and waste, YAY. But the rest, where do you think it ends up? Hint: landfills. And that goes for other countries too.
 
Let's do an experiment. Keep all the packaging from everything that you buy for a week. Whether its groceries, your food delivery, the water you bought at the vending machine...everything. Keep it all for one week and see how big the pile gets. And if it doesn’t seem that much, multiply it by a few billions of us having similar lifestyles. Now what do you think about the pile? And a lot of it ends up in landfills, in our ocean, inside animals, etc.
So now whenever I see a plastic toothbrush, I imagine it after I’m done with it, in a pile of trash somewhere. Not sexy. That mental image was enough for me to switch to bamboo toothbrushes. The same goes for plastic bags at the supermarket (I bring my own bag now), snacks packagings, plastic bottles (carry my own water bottle) and so on. We can minimise our garbage footprint by imagining where it ends up after we are done with it and changing our habits accordingly.  
Another healthy question to ask is: do I really need it? It’s a fair question, because sometimes you really DO need it, whatever “it” may be: new shoes, new phone, new bikinis. But sometimes, you just see it and it’s too cute to be true and “oh it’s cheap too".  But is that really the purchase that you NEED to make?
I used to do that. And all those items I would use it only a couple of times and then they would just sit there collecting dust in my closet. And to be honest, they never looked as good after a few washes.
That’s when it dawned on me that all that money spent on “cute and cheap” pieces of clothing could have bought me one nicer, more expensive piece that would last me longer. It’s a bit hard to make this mind shift, I think because it “hurts” spending more money at once versus a bit here and there. And also, you’ll have to buy less items (GASP).  But, you can now buy better, higher quality items that last longer. And more importantly, pieces that look the same after a few wash cycles. I’m looking directly at you, bikinis that become loose and discoloured after one summer.

Ok I get it, does it really make a difference?

Well, yes. Because if we want friends, family, politicians and corporations to care about the environment, WE need to care about the environment. And we have to signal that we care through our everyday actions and choices. But, like, seriously. We’re not gonna change everything in a day. And this is not a post about throwing out everything in your house that’s made of plastic and buying new things (that actually does more harm than good). I’m just talking about taking it step-by-step, and changing our actions to fit our new lifestyle. And most importantly, try not give into plastic!
Also, communication is key. Conversation is key. It raises awareness about solutions others may not know about. It’s a snowball effect. And the snowball has been set in motion. Now every snowflake counts.