Feeling inspired (+ tips for greener online shopping)

Copyright V. Valve.

As grim as the months of pandemic have been, news about inspiring people from all walks of life have offered much needed hope. Most recently, watching a video about 22-year old Amanda Gorman reciting her poem in the Biden-Harris inauguration gave me goose bumps. I was having a quick coffee break in the middle of a hectic workday, when her poise, grace and eloquence left me moved and inspired for a long while.

This part in Gorman’s poem is pertinent to the global environmental issues as well:

we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.

I noticed that when you do an online search using the words “inspiration” and “young”, top matches are about how and why adults should inspire the young. We would do well to pay more attention to what the youth have to say.

Beating inaction and inertia

A pre-requisite to change is awareness. It’s often said that the way human activity destroys nature is short-sighted. Maybe calling it blind would be more accurate. We don’t often know the impact of our choices, and how much we are in the red in terms of over over-utilization of the planetary resources. Did you see The Guardian’s article about the study Human-made materials now outweigh Earth’s entire biomass? The study reports that the amount of plastic alone is greater in mass than all land animals and marine creatures combined, and that on average, every person in the world is responsible for the creation of human-made matter equal to more than their bodyweight each week! It is shocking but not all that surprising in our consumption-obsessed world.

Material footprint

Material footprint is perhaps a less well known measure of our impact than the carbon footprint, but as the name implies, it is a measure of the consumption of raw materials such as oil, wood, metal ores, our lifestyles are responsible for. The global material footprint in growing at an alarming rate.

The global material footprint rose from 43 billion metric tons in 1990 to 92 billion in 2017—an increase of 113 per cent. The material footprint is currently increasing faster than population growth. Furthermore, the lifestyles of people in the richest nations are heavily dependent on resources extracted from poorer countries.

Sustainable Development Goals 2019 report
Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Three tips for greener online shopping

A great way to reduce our material & carbon footprints is by adjusting our shopping habits. Starting with the principles of the conscious consumer and considering the following when making online purchases:

1 Reduce fast shipping

This is possibly the most important thing. Fast shipping reduces retailers’ options for planning efficient delivery routes. Fast shipping is now offered by many online retailers and is one of Amazon’s core principles that drives customer obsession and loyalty to them. But, If we do a little bit of planning, we don’t rarely need to get our orders in one day.

2 Bulk buy and group items

Consider bulk buying items you use regularly. It creates less overall waste and can lower the carbon footprint of packaging and delivery. Avoid a constant flow of orders – an easy trap to fall in when we get free shipping.

3 Opt for reduced plastic packaging

In some countries, you can ask Amazon to not use plastic packaging materials for your orders. Amazon UK has trialled this option, but is not currently offering it. However, many other retailers have this option, e.g. many online grocery stores.

Never underestimate the influence that we consumers have. It is our purchasing habits that drive the direction in the consumer markets. Bit by bit, by sticking to sustainable choices, we will make a difference.

“For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.

“If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb

Image by jplenio from Pixabay

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