What Sustainability Means to Me

By Susan Lee

A woman standing in the center of a pile of clothes, grappling between the ideal sustainable lifestyle.

Sustainability. This term is used everywhere these days, isn’t it? It echoes through corporate boardrooms, government polices, and community discussions, pointing to a universal truth: our planet needs help, and it’s up to us to give it.

Like many of you, I care about our world, but if we’re being honest – life gets in the way. Between juggling work, family, and personal responsibilities, where does one even begin with being ‘sustainable’?

As I reflect honestly, am I embodying a sustainable lifestyle? Frankly, no.

I’m an imperfect, often unsustainable, human. Sure, I lean towards eco-friendly products, but I’m also a fan of the 2-day Prime shipping on Amazon, and I buy more than I should.

Often, our first brush with terms like ‘sustainability’ and ‘zero waste’ comes from the news or brands that have jumped on the eco-friendly bandwagon.

I’m not talking about the small, mission-driven entrepreneurs who genuinely care, but rather the big corporates using sustainability as a buzzword to mask less ethical practices — aka greenwashing.

But what if we, the collective, challenge the status quo? This isn’t just about choosing sustainable fashion; it's about our overall consumption habits and how we’re spending our money.

Despite 78% of US consumers claiming they value a sustainable lifestyle, only a quarter are actively increasing their eco-conscious purchases. Convenience, ease, and emotional appeal still drive our buying decisions.

Buy less, support eco-friendly brands, reuse and enjoy what I already have — this is the essence of what I aim for in my daily life.

For me, sustainability is a personal journey, made up of mindful decisions and incremental adjustments that include mistakes, a learning curve, and trying again.

There’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint. We create waste from simply existing and living. We are all uniquely human with our own rhythms and routines. Overconsumption and waste are the enemies, not consumption itself.

In my current life, caring for a toddler and a baby, running a business, ‘sustainability’ doesn’t always make the top of my priority list. I struggle with reconciling the image between the ‘ideal sustainable lifestyle’ — perhaps composting at home and DIY clothing — and my own, often chaotic, reality.

But I continue this journey, striving to make more conscious choices each day and forgiving myself when I don’t.

Whether it’s opting for a reusable coffee cup, supporting a local sustainable business, or educating my children about the importance of caring for our planet, every small action adds up.

I’m not a sustainability guru or a flawless example. I simply want to share knowledge, to promote progress over perfection, and to empower you with information so you can make choices that hopefully benefit both our communities and our planet.

That's what sustainability means to me – an ongoing effort to balance our needs with those of the world we live in.

I invite you to join me on this path (sign up below). Not in a bid for perfection, but for making a difference where we can.

After all, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword or a distant ideal; it’s a practice, a mindset, a commitment to ourselves and the home we all share.

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