If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that there is beauty in slowing down. That’s why we created The Slow Living Series. Throughout this year, we’ll be exploring what slow living truly means and the tactile ways that we can implement it into our daily lives. For part three, we’re exploring how each of us can make more sustainable choices every day — in a way that makes a true impact.
Sustainability. It’s a word you’ve probably heard everywhere over the past decade or so. You might even be working towards making more sustainable choices in how you shop, eat, and get from A to B. But what exactly does sustainability mean and how does it relate to slow living?
The simplest way to define sustainability is to make something last longer. If something is sustainable, that means it doesn’t run out easily. It doesn’t use up more than it needs. It doesn’t produce unnecessary waste or harm anything in its ecosystem. It simply makes the most out of every element it uses, in a way that is compassionate towards our planet.
In other words, sustainability is a conscious move awayfrom fast fashion, fast consumption, and fast fuels — which is what makes it such an important part of slow living.
As you could imagine, there are countless ways that something can be sustainable. This can make it easier for brands to use the word, without communicating a full ingredient list, production process, or the real impact their products have on the environment.
So, how are you to know if a sustainable alternative is truly — well — sustainable?
In this installment of our Slow Living Series, we’re breaking down our top suggestions for choosing more sustainable alternatives and whatyou can do as a consumer to stay informed on (and proud of) the products you’re using every day.
Swap plastic for sustainable packaging.
Did you know that 75% of all plastic ever produced is already waste? And by the year 2050, it’s expected that the ocean will contain more plastic than fish?
Plastic takes hundreds, if not thousands, of years to decompose. During that time, it sits in our landfills and waterways, releasing harmful toxins and severely harming the surrounding ecosystem.
That’s why plastic and other types of wasteful packaging are one of the first things we try to eliminate when we think about sustainability. Plus, it can be one of the simplest ways to ease into more sustainable products.
Here are our top tips for reducing packaging waste in your daily life:
- Choose products that come withlittle to no packaging. (At Iremia, our sensitive skincare products are sold unpackaged to produce as little waste as possible.)
- Check to see if the packaging is recyclable before buying. If it’s not stated explicitly, don’t be afraid to reach out to the company and ask!
- Reuse bottles and jars whenever you can. Ask if your favourite brands have a refill program so that you can keep using their products without throwing the jars away.
- Choose products that come in compostable packaging, so that they can decompose naturally in your compost bin.
- Inquire about any harmful toxins that might be hiding in the packaging, such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Every ingredient counts.
When it comes to choosing more sustainable ingredients, it’s all about minimalism. Think about using a small number of pure ingredients. These might be elements derived from the earth, like aloe vera, or produced naturally by the earth’s ecosystem, like beeswax.
(Pssst. Want to adopt more minimalism into your life? Click here to read part one of our Slow Living Series.)
The best part about pure ingredients? They often have multiple uses and produce a morepowerful impact. That’s why natural and sustainable beauty products have become so popular for people around the world — because they last longer and work better. It’s no surprise that the green cosmetics market has grown by 15% in recent years.
So, how can you choose ingredients that can give you more out of less (without hurting the environment)?
- Select all-natural ingredients that are sustainably extracted from the earth, like these.
- Avoid harmful chemicals that are common in household products, like bleach, chlorine, and ammonia.
- Choose plant-based ingredients to avoid ones that are contributing to climate change, like meat and dairy products.
- Stay educated on ingredients that have harmful production processes, like palm oil, which causes massive amounts of deforestation.
Pay attention to how it’s produced.
Speaking of palm oil, sometimes the most unsustainable part of a product is what we can’t see. So many production processes are designed to be as fast and cheap as possible. And to produce a lot of something for a small amount of money in a short period of time — you have to sacrifice a few things along the way.
What is that sacrifice? Far too often, it’s an important natural resource or the responsibility to keep air and waterways clean. For example, animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to climate change worldwide because of how the animals are raised, prepared, and packaged.
Another one that might surprise you? Almonds! These delicious nuts use an incredible amount of water and pesticides during production, which could leave a lasting impact on the environments where they are grown.
Clearly, production matters. And when so much of it happens behind the scenes, it can be difficult to know if your new favourite product is made sustainably or not.Here’s how you can stay in-the-know and choose products that are produced sustainably:
- Support small, local businesses. Since they operate on a small scale, they are less likely to have harmful production processes.
- Purchase products that are produced small-batched. This means that only a small amount of products are made at one time, with a lot of love and care being put into each one. It’s the opposite of doing things fast and cheap (which is exactly how we like it here at Iremia, where every item in our product line is produced small-batched).
- Try to avoid products that are made in large factories, like fast fashion.
- When in doubt, ask! Reach out to the business and inquire about their commitment to sustainability and how it applies to their production.
It’s all about the brand values.
There are so many incredible sustainable alternatives out there. Businesses around the world — big and small — are taken action to make their products more eco-friendly and long-lasting. Many brands have made a commitment to be 100% zero waste by a certain year. On top of that, new businesses are being created every day to bring exciting, innovative, and sustainable alternatives into the market.
This is where brand values come into play. In other words, what a company believes in and stands for. You can usually find this information on the company’s website or social media platforms. For example, Iremia’s core values can be found here.
As you learn more about what different companies value, try choosing products from brands that:
- Care about the environment and how their products impact it.
- Treat their employees with equality, respect, and compassion.
- Do the right thing — even if it means making a little less profit.
- Formulate products that truly benefit you and are designed to last.
- Are committed to reducing unnecessary waste.
- Put thought and care into every individual product they create, with an emphasis on quality over speed or quantity.
And remember — the more conscious we are about the products we purchase, the more we can invoke a sense of peace, calmness, and slow living into our lives.