How 'Conscious Convenience' Can Change Our Planet
Modern technology has brought convenience to the forefront of American homes. We can get pretty much anything delivered right to our doorsteps, and fast. Like, within the hour. And while it’s amazing that we don’t have to battle grocery store parking lots or deal with multiple errand stops, with this convenience comes consequences for our environment. More shipments equal more vehicles on the road, more emissions in our atmosphere, more packaging ending up in landfills, and more consumption by us. It is way too easy to consume and purchase items at a greater volume than ever before- we get to have a lot and do less to get it. Sounds ideal, right?
The problem is that our over consumption usually ends up in landfills (or, if you don’t like to let go of things, clogging up your garage, basements, or attics). We have lost the patience of repairing broken items or don’t see the point in spending more for something when we could just buy a cheap replacement. Seriously, though, where does one get a broken lamp or blender fixed?
Do I want to end the era of convenience? Oh, no. You’re talking to the person that gets slightly enraged when having to be out in public running errands for too long. Online ordering is THE actual best. While I highly applaud zero waste advocates and participators, and have actively implemented several practices myself, I think the problem lies with the majority needing to take a look at our, dare I say, abuse of convenience. We have gotten pretty damn lazy. How can we shift these habits into ones that aren't so harmful? Habits that not only affect Earth, but affect all of us. (Earth is our collective home, in case you forgot).
As the popular quote by Anne-Marie Bonneau states, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” So how can we appeal to the millions who kinda care about the planet but really care about getting toilet paper delivered pronto?
I would like to introduce the concept of ‘conscious convenience”. (More like a re-introduction if you have been following this blog or my Instagram for awhile). It is the idea that we can reframe our purchasing decisions using mindfulness, a small amount of investigating, and a lot of simple swapping to make better choices, while still making it fairly easy on ourselves to continue with our lives.
Some very easy examples include: bringing your own bags to the grocery store, finally ditching plastic water bottles for a reusable bottle, and making your own household cleaners.
Other options are using online retailers who are committed to eco-friendly products, practices, manufacturing, and transportation. You can finally utilize the bulk section of your grocery store, and challenge yourself to purchasing less single use plastic. Need condiments? See if they come in glass bottles.
(Conscious convenience at work- bringing my own bag to the grocery store and mindfully picking out produce without packaging).
You can try your luck at purchasing second hand and consignment items, one of my favorite ways to implement conscious convenience. The thrill of the hunt! You can adopt the mantra of reducing, reusing, and then recycling. Do you really need that pair of pants? If so, what’s the greenest way to purchase it?
Do you love a company but wish they were more sustainable? Take 2 minutes and email them. Voting with your dollar is one of the biggest ways to make change. In case you haven’t heard, companies really love money! If you want to do something right NOW, sign my petition asking Driscoll's Berries to implement more sustainable packaging. Did you know berry containers can't be recycled at most facilities?! Ugh!
All of these practices barely put a dent in the overall convenience score, I promise. It is more about re-thinking how we purchase and shop, and from whom. You might try using a different online retailer who takes a little longer to ship, or commit to spending a bit more on the green item if you have the means to do so. It might take a teeny sacrifice on our part, but it means the world to our world.
While I am aware that the Earth is in an actual crisis and plastic grocery bags or denying plastic straws seems like a tiny and inconsequential way to help, I firmly disagree. Creating strong, eco-friendly habits in small ways as a collective will produce big results. I think of the conscious convenient movement as humanity doing The Wave. With three people, it’s pretty lame. But if the whole stadium (country/world) gets involved, it can be epic.