The purpose I had in mind when starting 43 square meters was to bring awareness to sustainability and create a “safe space” where you can learn from someone you can relate to without feeling like you have to be perfect.
Sometimes, when I look at some influencers I really envy their lives because they seem to have it all figured out in ways I could only ever dream of. But I also feel like the image of a sustainable life that is being portrayed to us is completely unattainable. A lot of us will look at blog posts, vlogs etc. and think “There’s no way I could afford that” or “I would never have time for all that”.
Even though it is sometimes hard not to want to be perfect when you’re putting yourself out there on the internet for everyone to see, I don’t want to pretend to be. Instead, I want to tell you that I’m far from it but that it doesn’t deter me from trying to be better. I make so many unsustainable choices each day, just like you probably do. But I also make a lot of choices that are good for the planet.
Sustainability is not only about rolling out your cork yoga mat in the morning to do some sun salutations before having a few slices of your homemade sourdough toast with chia jam.
It’s much more than that and however these influencers may make it look – it’s not easy to do it right. No one can do everything completely right and that’s why I want to share my sustainability mistakes with you.
This is the first blog post in a series in which I’ll share with you the things I still do even though I know they’re not sustainable or environment-friendly. If you live in a rich country in Europe, chances are you’re also doing some of these things and I think we need to talk about them in order to figure out ways to get rid of them.
We’re only human and even though we struggle with certain things, we can inspire and help each other when it’s difficult.
Understanding why food waste happens
The first mistake I will bring up today is food waste. I still throw away food quite frequently because it’s gone bad. I rarely throw out something that is still edible but it has happened.
Either way, I am ashamed to admit it because wasting food is something we really shouldn’t be doing and compared to many other sustainability habits (like changing your diet), it is something that should be relatively easy to change.
So why don’t we?
The key to changing a behavior pattern starts with understanding why this pattern emerges. Only then can we try to develop ways to deal with the problem. I can only speak for myself but I think these causes could apply to a lot of people.
Too much planning
Food is supposed to be fun and nutritious and I think that a lot of the time when you don’t have the energy to cook – it can end up being neither of those things.
Planning your meals for, let’s say a week ahead, might help you deal better with the oh so frequently asked question: what should I eat today? But, since staring a meal planner a few weeks ago, I have noticed that even though having one helps deal with everyday life, laziness still sometimes strikes.
That’s when I end up cooking things that I hadn’t planned for, just because it’s easier than washing a pound of mushrooms and cutting up an entire head of cauliflower that I was supposed to do that day. And then, before you know it, those mushrooms are starting to grow fuzzy in your fridge…
Lack of commitment and awareness
I believe that – at least partly – commitment and awareness are connected. If you don’t know why you’re trying not to waste food and you don’t know where that food came from and who grew it and harvested it, you’re unlikely to make a conscious decision to stop wasting food.
But then again, we also have to deal with those everyday habits that not even conscious reasoning seem to have an impact on.
Here in Sweden and in other parts of the world, there are no real consequences for wasting food. Yes, you waste your money but in my opinion, people rarely think about the money once it is spent.
And apart from there being no truly visible financial consequences, food waste is almost never talked about, yet it is something that we know everybody is doing more or less but since it’s never been a topic that we like to talk about, there are no social consequences either.
I don’t mean that we should gather up our (pitch)forks or shun those that waste a lot of food, but rather start talking about food waste and discuss the issues I’ve mentioned here. We’re social beings and if we don’t get input, encouragement and questions from others, we likely won’t change our bad habits.
So what can we do to prevent food waste?
Fight that laziness!
Using the food you bought should be a priority in all cases. If you’re lazy one evening and you’re skipping that cauliflower and those mushrooms, make sure to use them the next day even if you weren’t planning on it.
Making a promise to yourself might help. If not, making one to the planet and to the people that grew the food that’s in your fridge might.
Do your research
I know that not everyone has an interest in these kinds of things but doing research does not necessarily mean that you should read countless articles on the topic. But even if you don’t have an interest, you have a responsibility to take care of our planet’s resources.
Know where your food is from by reading labels, or go to farmers’ markets and talk to people about food, or watch a documentary on food waste or listen to a podcast. Doing one of these things might be more fun or interesting for you than to read about it.
I haven’t watched many documentaries on food waste, so I’d love some ideas if any of you have, but I can recommend this TED talk by Tristram Stuart. TED talks are a nice way to get introduced to a topic because in a short amount of time, they’ll give you enough information to get you interested but won’t overwhelm you.
Take it easy in the beginning and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you do, chances are you’ll lose all motivation to ever try to change your bad habits.
Track your food waste
Sadly, it isn’t easy to keep track of your food waste unless you actually document this. I just checked and there also don’t seem to be that many apps for tracking food waste out there. I found one called FoodWise that I will check out. I’ll let you know how it goes and if I can recommend it!