Let's be honest: it has happened to even the most advanced zero wasters to have to shop at a supermarket at some point or another.
Whatever the reason: busy week, finished too late for the organic or farm store opening times, away during the weekly farmers market, emergency shop..
If this is you, whether just once in a while or more often, firstly take a deep breath and forgive yourself. These things happen!
Then you can consider making your shop the more zero waste friendly as possible following some simple steps, and if you have more I would love to hear them
If you follow a zero waste and ethical lifestyle you might also often shop organic. But... should you?
Firstly, entering an organic supermarket might trick your mind that everything inside is healthy. Think again: organic really is not the synonym of healthy. Even organic products can be full of unhealthy fats or full of sugars.
Secondly: you may think that is all ethical and will contribute to a better world. Well, wrong. Some ‘organic’ products have travelled for miles and miles, sometimes for no reason whatsoever as the same produce can be found in season growing nearby.
And organic labelling is not always that clear, with honey coming from mixtures of eu and non eu blends, just to give an example : what exactly does that even mean?! Where is it coming from ?
Not to talk about packaging - often as exaggerated and not recyclable, same as a normal shop..
Moreover, you may notice the same brands and big names in commerce through all of the organic shops, at least Europe-wide. This tells me that ‘organic’ is a capitalism-fuelling business.
I am somewhat lucky enough to have had some insights into organic certification. One thing for certain is expensive! So your local farm might still not use any chemicals or pesticides but may also not be certified as organic.
Moral of the story?
Don’t trust all that ‘organic’ shops throw at you. To be truly sustainable is important to use your brain and your own judgment.
We are increasingly being told that eating meat, paricularly beef, is not very compatible with a sustainable lifestyle. And some are putting all of their efforts into reducing its consumption. Which can only be a positive sign of change (yet I am a firm believer that this is only a small part of a bigger problem and vegan diets can also have profound impacts).
But does it mean we need to turn into a vegan world? No. And that wouldn’t be sustainable either.
Yes, I believe less is more and reducing our meat consumption overall to a few times a week rather than daily can only bring benefits (to our health too!). I also believe in variety, eating a bit of everything and trying new things. Aren’t humans meant to be omnivores??
So a recent article on ‘il fatto quotidiano’ (only available in Italian, sorry foreign friends!), telling people to try and eat nutria sparked my mind. If some species become pests and are deemed safe enough to eat, then why not try? If culling needs to happen then we might as well make the most of it and commercialise this kind of meats? Of course I am not saying free for all, take as much as you want. But, since culling is usually regulated, then let’s cull with more purpose.
I remember being appalled when one fellow PhD student told me his project was to find attractants for deers, to then cull them. At the time I didn’t know that ,because in Ireland there are no more natural predators, deers are a pest, a problem. Causing car accidents etc... so allowing hunting for this species with the purpose of eating and the secon benefit of keeping the pop low should be allowed. There. Not in another places, here Italy comes to my mind, where it happens anyway (illegally?), leaving wolves with less natural prey, forcing them to turn to sheep, giving wolves a bad name amongst farming communities...
So here we go- to make wild eating sustainable we should consider it in its context, but we shouldn’t rule it out. And if you cull it - try to eat it!
Environmentalists who take actions are often either viewed as violent protesters or ‘all talk and no action’.
And this should not be the case. Apart from the fact that boxing people and ideas is rarely useful,I know many environmentalists who don’t fall into these categories.
But there is some truth in it, perhaps. Some scientists love to talk and talk, and do experiments, then more experiments. But nature is complex, models seldom model reality, experiments often raise more questions and scientists are somewhat afraid to make too bold statements that might affect their career and future (the academic system is to blame in my opinion here)... so we go to meetings, we present gloom and doom scenarios amongst other scientists, we are a bit afraid that the news will pick it up the wrong way so we choose our words carefully when speaking to journalists, and here we stop. Hoping someone will translate our papers into some actions..
Bloggers, and I will include myself, also have a bit of this no action attitude. Yes I believe that I am trying to educate, hopefully reaching a wide audience and show them easy steps to be more sustainable in an easy lifestyle way. But am I? Sometimes I believe that maybe with all of these social media filtering I am just getting to the usual people who already are plenty aware of the problems...
On the other end of the spectrum there are many activists that feel like they have to take a more active approach and end up taking disruptive actions. And here I would also like to include some big organisations and conservation societies. So I don’t blame the public which thinks ‘oh no, other tree huggers’.
But here comes some positive: you can make your voice be heard without being violent. But we can only do that by collective actions. Start writing to companies: you don’t like that a certain place doesn’t have recycling? Write to them. You don’t like that a certain shop doesn’t sell local options? Write to them! Too much packaging in that brand? Stop buying, and write to them. Perhaps one message won’t make them do anything, but if we all collectively start complaining actively but peacefully (and always respectfully) something will go through! At least I hope.
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