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The Three Cs of living in a more sustainable way

Published June 22, 2020
Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Sustainability seems difficult and complex. But when I think about it, there are really just three components. And these three components all support and feed into each other.

Cultivate curiosity

I write a lot about how in the developed world we’ve become so completely divorced from the production of our food, clothes and general ‘things’ that we have little emotional connection to them.

We can’t see things, so we’re generally less interested in them.

Our detachment from our things and the invisibility of their production makes it easy for the unscrupulous environmental and social practices that have infiltrated the supply chain to continue.

All we know is we buy the $5 mince instead of the $20 ‘organic’ mince because we have to feed a family. Instead of wondering how that meat could have been produced so cheaply, we baulk at the nerve of asking so much for ‘fancy’ meat.

This C is about changing all that.

Just as Fashion Revolution prompts consumers to think more deeply about the conditions of garment factory workers with the hashtag #whomademyclothes, this is about asking “where did it come from?” about everything you see around you.

You’ll realise as you go along just how little information is really available about where and how things were produced, the condition of the animals, the workers, and so on. And your curiosity will naturally demand more transparent production and manufacturing practices.


Curated Consumption

This C is about taking what you learned when you got curious and applying it to the choices you make about how you live your life, especially when it comes to your shopping habits.

To curate is to select and arrange things to give meaning or tell a story; it’s what arty people do when they present a show or exhibition. And it’s what you’re going to do from now on when you buy stuff.

(TBH, there were so many Cs to choose from with this one: Careful, Conscious, Considered… but I know that if you’re reading this, you are Clever and Creative – more Cs! – so Curated gives a lovely association with an artistically beautiful life).

It’s a commitment to spending in way that aligns with the sustainable values that you’re cultivating through your ongoing curiosity.

Curated consumption then is really how you personalise sustainability, making it unique to YOU. How beautiful and interesting is that?


Circular disposal

A ‘circular’ economy aims to keep materials in use for as long as possible, reducing our reliance on ‘virgin’ (natural, original, farmed) materials to make new things.

Although it’s been hugely popular in Europe for about 20 years, we’re only just seeing it work its way into Australian waste management policy.

This is really about recovering waste, viewing waste as a resource, and recycling it into something else.

Because we’ve become very curious, we’re going to think about how we will dispose of something as part of our purchasing decisions, at the very start of our own consumption cycle.

How long will you use it for? Will it go in the yellow recycling bin? Will you have to book a council collection? What will the council do with it? Can you re-use it yourself? Will it easily breakdown if it does end up in landfill?

Avoiding landfill is your main goal, along with supporting materials that will be easily recycled and made with recycled materials.

When things get overwhelming, just come back to the three Cs to hit a reset ?

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