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Learning and Teaching Sustainability

Wait! What did I just buy??

What does it really mean to be sustainable? Most of us, when we hear the word sustainability, immediately think of the environment and being eco-friendly. The truth is that sustainability is about so much more. Fair and sustainable business practices are just as important as recycling and water conservation. I am not saying recycling and being water conscious are not important, but it will take more than that to bring our environment back to health. 
 
With that said, here are some common purchases we make that have an impact on our sustainability:
 
  • Groceries: Believe it or not the types of food we eat and who we buy them from has an impact on the environment. Buying meat is a good example. Our over indulgence in meats has led to a massive meat industry that is very destructive to our sustainability. For further reading on meat industry and sustainability you can check out this National Geographic article. Be your own judge. I think Nat Geo does reputable work.  Beyond meat, there are many other foods and drinks that impact sustainability. At some point we will add a list of these items and their impacts. 
  • Clothing: Many clothing manufacturers pollute the environment by allowing chemical run-off from the manufacturing process to leach into water systems. 
  • Furniture: Similar to clothing the manufacturing process for furniture can lead to chemical by-products leaching into water systems and many unwanted goods end up in landfill.
  • Anything plastic: Think about all the things we buy that contain plastic. It's hard to think of many products that don't contain some sort of plastic. The actual product may not be plastic but it was likely packaged in plastic.
 
Currently buying sustainable products is tough. They aren’t readily available and products that claim to be sustainable may not actually be sustainable. Companies use marketing ploys to position their products as environmentally friendly when in fact they are not. Food producers are the most obvious offenders of this, using keywords like “Natural” and “Real” to lead people into thinking there is a health benefit to be had.
 
This is not an all-inclusive guide to buying everything sustainable. It's intended to get you thinking about the things you buy. Who is making these products and what is their motivation?
 
Next time you are purchasing a coat, or a even a soda, ask yourself “What did I just buy?"
 
 
 

Products we like

We use Dr. Bronner’s. It smells great and lasts forever. I feel much better having this soap run down the drain than the toxic alternatives. Click the image to go to Dr. Bronner’s

Hydro Flask® is a great product. Think of all the plastic bottles and tea or coffee cups you wont have to buy. Prices vary, but this particular one I think costs $30. Click the image to go to Hydro Flask's website 

Coconut Bliss makes non-dairy frozen deserts. For those who love ice cream but need to adjust their sustainable habits, check out Coconut Bliss. We eat more of this than I will ever admit to : )

About the author: Adam Cunningham
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