My Sustainability Confessions

Over the past few years I have slowly started talking more and more about sustainability across my social media. It has grown into a huge passion of mine and an integral element of my brand. However, discussing this topic opens me up to criticism which is understandable – it comes with the territory. I am often told that I am not doing enough, that I am not setting a good example or that I am a hypocrite for talking about sustainability, but not being perfectly sustainable.

The reality is, yes I am a hypocrite. But pretty much anyone living a western lifestyle is. Nobody is 100% sustainable. Unless you’re living off the grid, growing your own crops, making your own clothes and harvesting rain for your cold showers – you’re not going to be perfectly sustainable. Almost every single action we take has implications on the planet, from purchasing a coffee through to taking the train to work, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to reduce your impact. For example, “clouds” which store our data are set to become one of the largest consumers of electricity and power in the world, with every single email we send or instagram comment we leave contributing to this increasing demand on resources. 

In my opinion, this pressure to live the perfect eco-friendly lifestyle actually makes it less appealing to start making sustainable swaps. People who are new to the concept of green living may be turned off by the expectation to get everything right. When in fact we don’t need 100 people living perfectly sustainable lifestyles, we need billions of people doing it imperfectly. So here I am opening up and being vulnerable, sharing with you some of my imperfections and sustainability confessions, in the hope that it makes living more consciously a little less intimidating. Here goes…

I buy hard copy books. 

Not kindle books or audio books. I know they’re made from trees but I just love the feeling of paper between my fingers. 

I take a lot of flights. 

Flying is part of my job, I am a fitness and travel blogger, so visiting different destinations is an element of what I do. I earn a living by hosting retreats across the world and working on paid partnerships with different hotels and tourism boards. I carbon offset my trips and always follow my responsible travel principles .

I don’t compost. 

My local council doesn’t provide food waste bins, I have spoken to them directly about this but it doesn’t look set to change any time soon. In the meantime, I reduce my food waste in general and I use “wonky veg” services such as Oddbox.

I still buy things in plastic. 

I have massively reduced my consumption but is almost impossible to avoid it completely in the 21st century. I try to ensure any plastic I do use is recyclable, but this isn’t always possible either.

I still order avocado toast. 

I know that local and seasonable food is important and I aim to eat this as much as possible, but sometimes I give into my cravings and allow myself a hefty slice of avocado toast.

I still buy new clothes. 

My clothing consumption is a tiny fraction of what it was and I do buy 90% of my clothes from sustainable brands now. However, I still get a few items from fast fashion brands – for example all my jeans are from Topshop as they’re the only brand who fit my 37 inch legs. Tall girl problems. 

I still buy mainstream beauty products. 

My current beauty regime is a mix of more natural brands in sustainable packaging, as well as mainstream less natural brands in regular packaging.

I have baths. 

Baths use a ridiculous amount of water, but I still have them once or twice a month because they help me relax.

My diet slips. 

I eat a plant-based diet 95% of the time, but sometimes I let things slide such as a mouthful of my boyfriend’s croissant, a slice of cake my mum has made or a scoop of ice cream on holiday. 

That being said… I still do a lot.

I recycle like a boss. I buy less clothing than ever before. I take shorter colder showers. I use a renewable energy supplier. I put my money in sustainable banks and investments. I turn off the lights. I turn off the tap. I produce less food waste. I buy fewer products in general. I shop secondhand. I eat mostly plants. I use reusable bottles, cutlery, coffee cups and bags. I use eco-friendly cleaning products. I fix my clothes instead of throwing them away. I don’t own a car. I use reef-safe suncream. I prefer to buy from local shops rather than larger chains. I buy from sustainable brands. I pick up trash when I see it in the park. I pick up trash when I see it on the beach. I carbon offset all my travel. I travel responsibly and stay at eco-resorts when I can. I volunteer in local communities. I organise group beach cleans. I go to environmental protests. I sign petitions. I’ve made the decision to not have children (or if my hormones kick in some time, I will only have a maximum of one).

Not to mention, I try to spread the word to hundreds of thousands of people online. I have created the Living Consciously Crew, an eco-friendly support group with 13,000 members. I have co-founded Stay Wild Swim, a sustainable and ethical swimwear company made from ocean plastic. I have presented a sustainability series for BBC Earth, spoken at Facebook HQ about how they can be more eco-friendly, and even done a talk at the UN about using social media for positive change. I have produced my own reusable water bottles with profits going to an ocean charity. In fact, a portion of all my profits and earnings goes to charity and I recently became an ambassador for both Sea Shepherd and the Rainforest Alliance.

And despite all that? I’m still nowhere near perfect.

This is a scary post to write and a seriously scary post to share. But I am doing this in the hope that it shows you that you don’t need to be 100% sustainable to make an impact. Every single positive change you make has a ripple effect on people and the planet and we all need to get involved. Please don’t be scared into inaction, just start small and go from there. 

Zanna xx