No Room for Ethical Elitism: Why Purity Testing Is Toxic for Any Movement
When it comes to creating and advocating for change in your day-to-day life, often the biggest deterrent can come from people who have already incorporated these changes into their lives. This can stem from comments, unconstructive criticism, and elitism. Unfortunately, these traits can also be found in communities centred around climate activism and sustainable communities.
At Zero Waste Berlin Festival, we believe in many imperfect journeys rather than a handful of perfect ones—if you’re just getting started in sustainability and zero waste, you may find it overwhelming to change parts of your life that have been ingrained in you since a young age, especially if you try to change them all at once!
A large-scale experiment that tracked New Year’s resolutions has shown that people with approach-oriented goals with support and encouragement (especially at the beginning) are more likely to stick to their lifestyle changes. The study also shows that approach-oriented goals are significantly more likely to be upheld when compared avoidance goals. This same logic can be applied to one’s own zero waste journey.
Changing Food Habits
In recent years we’ve seen an explosion in ethical and environmental products. When it comes to switching up your diet, cutting down on plastic packaging and buying bio or free-range goods can be difficult depending on where you are in the world and how much money you can allocate.
Frustratingly, it’s far cheaper to buy unhealthier, less-ethical, and prepackaged food than fresh produce. Sometimes people do not consider the social/economical background of others and judge them regardless. Things like affordability and accessibility to sustainable and ethical food should be (and can be) enforced by governments and legislation.
For that reason, it’s totally understandable for those on their zero waste journey that can’t afford it to opt for package-less or more ethical food less regularly or focus their sustainability efforts towards other aspects of their life.
Travelling Through a Sustainable World
With more of the population receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, the end to this pandemic is in sight and a return to normality is on the horizon. This means that travel, which for the majority of us was either heavily dissuaded or unavailable, is bound to make a comeback. It’s definitely tempting to book the cheapest flight to Mallorca ASAP but there are ways for all of us to return to travel and do it sustainably.
The first way is to consider your means of transportation. Can you choose an alternative more environmentally friendly option? Chances are you could but for many options like this are unaffordable eg. railway privatisation has pushed the price of tickets much higher than that of air travel.
For some after this pandemic, the first thing they want to do is return to their family and loved ones that are overseas or across the world. I don’t see any need to criticize these people, it’s been a tough year and many have only been accompanied by the four walls of their rooms for the better part of two years. After this pandemic, though, we should start considering how to make travel more sustainable.
France has moved in the right direction by stopping flights that are reachable by train and Greens Chancellor candidate, Annalena Baerbock, has announced she intends to do something similar in Germany if she comes into power. Legislation is the first step in the right direction towards making sustainable travel a realistic option for more people.
Who doesn’t love a good thrift? But seriously, we all know the costs of fast fashion (both ethical and environmental) and if you’re reading this, chances are you already make an effort to source your clothes from cruelty-free, ethical manufacturers. When it comes to clothing, it can be difficult to find fitting clothes at an affordable price, especially if you’ve got a young family to consider.
For others, maybe they focus their sustainable efforts in other areas of their life. But remember, no matter what we should always encourage each other on our zero waste journey and not judge or criticise others no matter how much or how ‘little’ people do; everyone goes at their own pace.
While more and more consumers want the fashion industry to follow more sustainable practices, oftentimes these goods are more expensive because of production costs which keeps them out of reach for most of us. But with the rising demand for sustainable options, hopefully we will see more brands in the future shift towards a more sustainable and ecological model, ensuring affordability.
When it comes to people’s zero waste journeys, positivity and encouragement goes a lot further towards a greener future than negativity. It’s better if we can uplift and inspire more people to make small changes in their lives—understanding and patience are all key parts to achieving any meaningful change. As we all emerge from a very stressful time, it’s important to focus on the little things and not beat yourself up too much. When you have an eco-setback (and you probably will as we’re all human) recoup and come back even stronger!
If you’re interested in seeing what you can do to get started on your zero waste journey, check out the Zero Waste Berlin Festival in September where you will discover local green businesses and hear from experts about how you can reduce your carbon footprint! After the pandemic, many will reflect on their consumption habits which in turn will encourage companies to make the above products and services greener and more affordable going forward.
Sustainability and zero waste are not burdens for the few to share, it requires everyone to pitch in as individuals, be it on a local, national, or international level. You can make a small step today that will help set the course for a more sustainable future!