Is Sustainability Trendy?
Right now search the hashtag #sustainable on Instagram and you will get 7.3 million results.
But is sustainability truly trendy?
By its very nature sustainability isn’t a trend, sustainable systems sustain themselves, for years to come. Real sustainability requires far more than coconut bowls and recycled plastic bottle bikinis.
It’s requires radical thinking and an overhaul of the systems we live in. A deep understanding of the colonial, capitalist, corrupt systems that led us here, on the cusp of complete extinction. And the utter belief that an alternative is possible.
It requires brave souls who can imagine and create that alternative out of the chaos around us. People who will fight authority, and throw their freedom on the line for that better alternative. It requires pushing the voices of marginalised communities to the forefront, and listening to their experiences and knowledge.
It’s requires collective action, and holding people accountable. But also forgiveness and love. Learning and growing.
Top: Secondhand from my Dad, at least 30 years old
Skirt: Secondhand from my godmother, at least 20 years old
It also requires self reflection on our own part in the systems we wish to dismantle. How much of capitalism is forced upon us, and an unavoidable consequence of living in the current world? And how much do we actively choose to partake in. It means re-evaluating your buying habits, your travel experiences, the things you need to make you, you.
It means questioning your own privilege and position in society, and working hard to afford others those privileges too.
Sometimes it involves making decisions that aren’t too enjoyable. Saying no to things you previously loved, but along the way you will find new and more creative ways to express yourself. You will find you aren’t the sum of your material possessions. That 76 pairs of perfect trainers don’t make you happy or complete. But instead human connection, passion and creativity are all you need.
It also means understanding that individual changes only take us so far. And that while individual change is worthwhile we need complete system overhaul, we need big industry and governments to make changes to protect people and our planet. And that we have a right to fight for those changes, we have a right to cause disruption and stop business as usual. We will be criticised for going against the norm, but it is the belief in your convictions that fights those criticisms.
Lastly it requires all of us who are more privileged and already trying to live as sustainably as possible to think about how we can make sustainability more accessible for everyone, but particularly the most marginalised and vulnerable in our communities. No system is sustainable if it allows for homelessness, child poverty, families having to feed themselves on charity run food banks. We need to listen to people who aren’t yet ready to believe a sustainable system is possible, and answer their concerns with love. We need to evaluate whether sustainability for the Instagram generation is sustainable at all, when it leaves so many people in the cold?
Backdrop: An old sofa throw hung up in the garden
So is true sustainability really trendy? I think the answer is no, it’s not. It’s not something that will come and go with the next fad. It’s not a pretty flatlay photo on Instagram. It’s a deep overhaul of your life, your soul, what you believe to be true and false, and it’s a call to action. Sustainability is something I live and breathe, it filters in to every area of my life, and provides me with hope when the world seems utterly shit. Its something we should all be striving towards and considering. Whether sustainability for you is just making sure you are taking a reusable bag to the shop, or you are part of a global movement to force change, if you are thinking about the sustainable system alternative where no one is left behind, and believing in it, you are part of the solution!