How big-small change begins with sustainable re-training
By Yulia Strokova, Samantha Schalit
Did I take my reusable bag to the grocery store? Is my sunscreen actually natural? Did I turn off the light? Maybe I should try meatless Mondays. Or Tuesdays. Is this brand socially responsible?
“This is how eco-criticism came to my life,” tells eco-blogger Cristina Castro, freshly graduated from the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School. “I studied sustainable business. We are used to thinking critically toward solutions and strategies that corporations integrate into operations.
I thought the same strategies and earth-centered approach could work in my daily life, basically in everything — what I do, what I choose, and what I buy. I played with combinations of words and found the term eco-criticism, and it stuck with me.”
Emerging in the 1980s on the shoulders of the environmental movement, eco-criticism asks us to examine ourselves and the world around us, critiquing the way that we represent, interact with, and construct the environment, both “natural” and human-made.
“Eco-criticism, or being eco-critical, means continually assessing your impact on the world, and the world’s impact on you, from different standpoints,” continues Cristina. “It’s acknowledging that we are all interconnected (humans, animals, and nature) and that we rely on each other to survive and thrive. We have to reframe how we think about the purpose and role of businesses, governments, and ourselves.”
Is what I do important?
Big changes begin not with grand resolutions, but with simple, small steps.
Eco-criticism is about educating yourself and others. The New York Times recently released a "crash" course on climate change over the past 50 years. It answers critical questions that we can all ask ourselves so we understand climate change, how it's being dealt with, and how our individual actions impact and contribute to a circular economy.
How bad is climate change now?
Who is influencing key decisions?
Do environmental rules matter?
Is what I do important?
The last question is one of the most common and most responsible for addressing the problem of climate change.
Examine Your Choices
Somini Sengupta, an international climate correspondent, believes that "personal actions and international cooperation are inextricably linked."
"Many of my consumption choices have large implications. Most lipsticks I impulse-buy contain palm oil, the production of which is linked to deforestation in Southeast Asia. And what I eat has an enormous climate footprint. The average person in North America eats more than six times the recommended amount of red meat, a report published last year found, while the average person in South Asia eats half of what's recommended."
Who could drive lifestyle change and influence others to prevent a catastrophe down the road?
Every one of us.
One house with solar panels can lead to others in the neighborhood installing solar panels of their own. One Instagram eco-influencer could cultivate an 'impact mindset' of 10K followers. One sustainable, educational business program could raise hundreds of socially and environmentally responsible professionals.
The economic model of the future is circular: your outputs become your inputs. In other words, use waste to create new resources and thus restart the cycle.
Recover Brand collects and sorts plastic bottles — to be remade into t-shirts. They salvage cotton from discarded industry scraps, sorted by color and blended with polyester. The reclaimed fiber is then spun into yarn and knit into fabric, which is ultimately cut and sewn into a garment. With a proprietary process, they're able to produce unique, 100% recycled apparel.
Reimagining the way we do business requires us to use global resources efficiently, reducing unnecessary waste generation.
It is never too late and you’re never too young to make a difference. We have already damaged the planet with heatwaves, wildfires, plastic bottles, and mass bleaching of coral reefs. But the future isn't set in stone.
To get where we need to go, it's imperative that each of us choose wisely and act responsibly. It's always the RIGHT time for rebirth, renewal, and regeneration.