5 Lessons from Sustainability Podcasts

One thing has been adding up on my phone. It’s not the e-mails I need to respond to. It’s the number of podcasts that have added up since I started another semester at graduate school. In the past, I found podcasts as a way to stay informed and to unwind from constant textbook reading. Unfortunately, I’ve had to put podcasts on the back burner, but because of this month’s affirmations, I decided it was time to check back in with some of my favorite podcast hosts. Tuning in, I’m finding there are some ways to look at sustainability that I hadn’t considered. If you’ve seen sustainability as tree-hugging or are apprehensive that those who favor green living are judgmental, here are some of the lessons I’ve uncovered that make me think about sustainability in a different life.

1) Reusable materials aren’t the only answer to sustainability. After listening to BBC 4-Costing the Earth, I came away with many important reminders, but the most important understanding is the limits of generating reusable materials. Using waste from apples to make leather or lace sounds thrilling and a great way to stop wasting food and materials, but it’s not the only answer. Transforming materials into a usable fiber sometimes damages the environment and requires harmful chemicals. Bamboo is the perfect example of this dilemma. Reusable fibers are a good start to a more eco-friendly wardrobe and lifestyle, but it isn’t the only or best method.

2) Sustainability doesn’t mean you should only be mindful of the environment. Being mindful of yourself and your life is just as important. Thinking that sustainable living is only about being mindful of the environment can lead to people thinking they have to do everything in a specific way. This can become exhausting. Finding a balance is just as important as thinking about the environment. Slow Your Home Podcast series about social media brought to light my own experiences as a social media marketer. It can be easy to think jump on my phone to promote an organization or cause I care about, but it’s just as important not to get wrapped up in what’s happening online and neglect my personal life.

3) Expecting ourselves to live a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t mean perfection. Too often I hear apologies from friends when they think they’ve been the cause of me failing to live a sustainable lifestyle. Striving to live a life that causes less harm on the world around me does not mean that I have to be perfect. Sustainability is not about feeling guilty because you didn’t achieve a perfectly eco-friendly lifestyle, it’s about making better choices. In the 200th episode of the Slow Your Home Podcast, one of the hosts’ biggest lesson is to not put big expectations on yourself. Expecting yourself to be perfect and live a perfectly conscious lifestyle sets you up for failure. Why? Because it’s impossible, and you forget one important thing: to enjoy and live life.

4) Taking on sustainability or any endeavor doesn’t mean taking it on all at once. Listening to Productive Flourishing, one thought that stood out to me was the idea of comparisonitis. In today’s world, we constantly compare ourselves to others and blame ourselves for not accomplishing more to live a better life. Whether we’re on Facebook or Instagram, we look at others’ lives and think we should be doing more. The problem is, if you aren’t happy now, you won’t be happy later. That’s why it’s better to prioritize and decide what’s most important and what matters. Making everything a priority means you won’t be able to accomplish anything, but prioritizing means you can accomplish and complete more, one step at a time.

5) Using what you have is the most important step. Replacing everything you have with sustainable materials doesn’t mean your life is more sustainable. During BBC Radio 4-Costing the Earth on sustainable fashion, the discussion led to the need for companies to show people how less is more. This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything or that everything you own needs to be replaced with eco-friendly materials. Instead, it’s about using what you have. Disposing of more items only wastes energy and acquiring more eco-friendly options only adds to overconsumption. Seeing the value of what you own and how you can use is a more effective solution.

Podcasts have provided me with more than entertainment this month. These podcasts are more than discussions about the environment and eco-friendly practices. They present new ways to look at sustainability and show what really matters when it comes to a more conscious lifestyle. Having these on my phone is a good reminder of taking time to unwind and hear some other thoughts beyond those of my textbooks.

Cover Image Photo: Pixabay

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