I want to start out this post by stating that our purchases and our boycotts have a tremendous amount of political power, and by reminding us all that we shouldn't stop trying to do whatever we individually can.
We should all be eating less meat. We should be refusing straws, ordering less takeout buying secondhand or ethically-made goods, buying fair trade or local foods, taking less showers, taking fewer flights, using public transit, picking up litter, choosing experiences over gifts, becoming minimalists. There are tons of things that we can all do, and we should all be doing them.
But you know what? Even if you don't, I couldn't care less.
Yep, that's right. I preach all day and night about conscious consumerism, about voting with your dollars. And I believe every word I say! Supporting small, ethical businesses and influencers means everything to their owners. Any time one of you tell me "I thought of you while clothes shopping", I do a happy dance. Every time you buy from a fair trade company, some of those profits go directly to the farmer or employee. You can so clearly, so directly impact lives in this way. And we shouldn't ever stop.
But we also need to stop obsessing. Because these acts are just the very, very START of what needs to be happening if we are ever to achieve climate justice and equality. Refusing a straw is great. But what happened when that was the issue everyone decided to champion? Companies jumped onto that bandwagon because it was easy and they thought they could ban them and magically become ~~green~~ in the eyes of consumers.
And in the background of our spotlight on straw bans, this week, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline. I'm literally not exaggerating: Trudeau passed a single use plastics ban one day, and the pipeline thing happened only several later.
The single use plastics thing is awesome and worthwhile and about-freakin'-time, but it's also so blatantly a Trojan Horse. Canada gave us this ban because Canada thought it'd distract us from the larger enemy: the oil. Also, companies want us to focus on these smaller-scale things because for them, it's a distraction from their broader and more systemic offences.
Plastic comes from oil. Quite frankly, every single thing we're trying to use less of comes from oil. So, why aren't we tackling the root cause?
Conscious consumerism, and conscious capitalism more broadly, is absolute bullshit unless it's accompanied by a fight for changing the systems behind consumerism and capitalism.
So refuse straws and buy secondhand clothes, but also: organize in your community. Attend climate strikes. Write to your MPs, other government officials and ministers, and heck, even the Prime Minister. Join school clubs that petition administration to divest in oil. Influence local stores to carry more fair trade or local products. Volunteer for radical and grassroots organizations in your community. Educate yourself on how to be a good ally for Indigenous communities near you, and do it. Take classes, either at your school or online. I promise you that there are so many ways to tackle these systems.
Promise that you'll try. Promise that you won't stop at buying bracelets off of Instagram made of ocean trash. Promise that you'll show up, physically, that you'll challenge yourself to keep doing more.
Because while it starts at a straw ban, it absolutely doesn't stop there. But if we create the illusion through how, what, and when we're supporting that it does, those pipelines keep getting built. And we miss tackling the systems past and underneath the straw bans.
As always, I'm open to conversation. Drop me a comment or send me a message.
With love and sustainability,