If we’re really honest with ourselves, none of us are really “green enough”, are we? I mean that to say that the nature of our lifestyles in this country and most of the modern world dictates that we sometimes do things that aren’t really sustainable. We drive cars — most of which are not hybrids or electric vehicles (and even those are only but so green), we buy mass-produced food, and the list goes on. Of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make more sustainable choices whenever we can.
Speaking personally here, I like pretty things. I like for my home to be beautiful, and I love dressing well, and my family is similar. That usually means that I often come across beautiful things that I’d love to buy — and sometimes I do. I’d like to pretend that I stop before every purchase to consider how and where something was made, and what it’s made of, but the truth is that I don’t do this every time. Some of the time, yes. Sometimes I try to find this information, am unable to, and buy anyway. But there is one sustainable action I try to take every time I want to buy something: I consider how long it will last and fit into my life.
For example, about 2 years ago, my husband and I finally replaced our hulking, aging red sectional. In an ideal world, we’d have been able to afford a completely eco-friendly sofa made with recycled materials, organic cotton, etc. But since our sectional was falling apart and we were really overdue to replace it, we had to make a choice. We chose to buy a sofa that wasn’t sustainable in the traditional sense, but that is sturdy and neutral enough to fit into our home for years to come. If it can’t be traditionally green, I try to at least make sure it’s not short-term or disposable.
I could hit my nearest big box store and buy something trendy that I may or may not really like and may or may not work for my overall style. Or I can invest in something that, even if not necessarily more expensive, is classic enough or fits my personal style well enough to last for a long time, or that is versatile enough to use in several ways or rooms so I’ll get more use out of it.
Because the reality is that there’s nothing sustainable about buying something just to buy it, and leaving it to sit unused.
And once some pretty thing I once couldn’t live without has outlived its usefulness for me, or my style has evolved so much that it just doesn’t work anymore, I do everything I can to sell it or donate it — passing it on to someone else who can love it, rather than letting it end up in a landfill. This is my process for everything from decorative pillows to vases, furniture and clothes.
So trust that though this site is all about making your home, and by extension, your life, greener, it has never been about unrealistic standards or preaching to you about not doing or being enough. Because like most of us, I love pretty things, and I buy pretty things. I only want to encourage us all to be as thoughtful as we can in the ways that our lifestyles and limitations (financial and otherwise), allow.