The Negative Connotations of Sustainability


When I first started trying to become more sustainable I was overwhelmed with having to change my whole lifestyle and habits. I had no idea where to start. There are so many different ways to be low waste and eco-friendly. I decided to start with making a promise to not buy any fast fashion items. As I kept going in my sustainable journey, I wanted to start incorporating food, beauty, and skincare.

Recently, I’ve come to realization that it is extremely overwhelming and hard to make transitions to a more sustainable life. This is because eco-friendly options can be really expensive, hard to access, difficult to get used to, and more. I was also being hard on myself for not being perfect, because the low waste people I was following on social media seemed perfect, like they never accidentally forgot their reusable cup or grocery bags. To me the word ‘sustainable’ started to have connotations of privilege, money, and unattainability. However, I am trying to change these connotations in my own life by viewing sustainability differently.

Here are some ways I am trying to change these views:

  • On social media unfollow the accounts that make you feel negative about sustainability.

  • Follow accounts that are diverse when it comes to sustainability, such as people of different income level, popularity, ethnicities, backgrounds, gender, lifestyles, and interests.

  • Some of my favorite positive sustainability instagram accounts are @thatcurlytop, @thegoodtrade, @dominiquedrakford, @tollydollyposh, @greengirlleah, @sustainablesabs, @venetiafalconer,, @rocket_science, @callmeflowerchild

  • Realize that you don’t need the coolest, newest eco-friendly product. It’s also cool to use up what you already have, even if it isn’t perfectly sustainable.

    • Sometimes if I don’t have access to a drinking fountain or my reusable water bottle, I buy a plastic water bottle. I also try to reuse my plastic water bottle a few times.

    • Before buying an all natural glass jar of face moisturizer from a local company, I try and use up all of my other moisturizers.

    • I really wanted to buy reusable cotton rounds from The Package Free Shop, but I couldn’t justify spending $20, so I made DIY cotton rounds out of an old cotton t-shirt.

  • Show your support for being sustainable by doing. Sometimes being preachy about a topic like sustainability can make others cringe and not want to listen, and can also make you seem condescending and judgmental. I love this article by The Good Trade titled ‘How to Talk To Your Friends and Family About Sustainability.’

  • If at the moment it is too hard for you to make sustainable changes in your life, that is okay. Do what you can, at your own pace. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for that.

  • You can also show support for sustainability by going to fast fashion protests, climate change events, educating yourself on sustainability and how people in the world are being affected by pollution, the fashion industry, contaminated water, and so forth. Also vote for changes! I find that when I go to events around these topics I meet very down to earth people that do not further the negative connotations of sustainability.

    • If you don’t have access to events like these, there are tons of resources online such as Fashion Revolution and Remake. Maybe try reaching out to your favorite sustainability accounts to chat about being eco-friendly.

If you have any tips on combatting negative connotations of sustainability, or thoughts, please comment below!