Updated: Jan 1
How can we expect to see change when we have created a movement that doesn't embrace the whole of society?
This is something I asked myself when standing at the grocery store staring at the price tag on a handmade cloth alternative to a gift bag. R299.99 - it crossed my mind that I could buy a whole cupboard full of new clothes from a thrift/charity shop with that amount of money. But somehow someone could justify spending that amount of money on a simple cloth gift bag?
This is where I strongly disagree with the movement that has taken the words 'green', 'eco' and 'sustainable' and not only put a price tag on them but has made them appear trendy and ultimately unattainable to the everyday human being. Those of you on social media, or if you ever catch some of the headlines in magazines, news channels, or in the paper, will probably find that the the 'eco' movement has taken the world by a storm. Suddenly everyone wants to use a bamboo straw and drink out of a Keep Cup. Brands and companies use the words 'green', 'clean', 'eco-friendly' or 'natural' to attract customers to buy their products, and greenwashing is now a real thing.
Terms such as 'zero-waste', 'plastic-free, 'vegan' and 'minimalist' have become the definition of this growing movement and now being a vegan, zero-waste, minimalist living in large white house with all the latest juicers, blenders, spiralizers, 100% organic hemp clothing, and the 'perfect' pantry stocked full to the brim with any variety of superfoods is not only the ideal, but the face of being 'eco-conscious' - which is ridiculous because it exactly contradicts the very values or meanings of those terms.
It is a movement that has become fake, I feel, and desperately needs to be redefined. If we want to see change - positive change - then we need to become inclusive to the whole of society. We need to strip away off putting labels, ideals and unattainable expectations, so that it becomes a movement that is welcoming. Living consciously with the planet shouldn't be reserved for only those that can afford it. We need to step away from words like 'sustainable' and 'eco-friendly' because at the end of the day we don't want to sustain this - a planet so destructed and devoid of it's forests, jungles, habitats, and animals. Instead we need to regenerate. We need to bring new life to the areas that have been deadened for so long. We need to become contributing beings to the greater circle of life, supporting and allowing life to thrive instead of just sustain itself.
We don't need a handful of people doing everything right. We need millions of people doing what they can - whether that's big or small - and we need them doing it everyday.
It was this very reason I created "What the Bag?" and why I started this platform, to inspire, motivate and create change - but to do it differently. To spread a new movement, a movement that is inclusive, embracing and open to everyone. To show people that no matter what small changes you've made or where you are in your journey, that you belong and that you can be a part of this movement for the planet. For us as people. And for life.
So I invite you to start today. Don't let society or social ideals tell you what you can or cannot do. Start today with one small change. Whether that's bottle bricking you plastic waste, growing your own herbs, composting, eating less meat and animal products, educating yourself (Netflix has some great documentaries!), using your own shopping bags, buying seasonal and local - whatever it is just start somewhere. Stick to it and then let it grow from there.
We're all in this together.