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Sustainability and me

A background blog

About four years ago, I honestly thought I was sustainability minded. You know, one of those people who really cared about the planet. Other people, I thought, they just said they did, but I took in-real-life action. I mean I walked places – I walked a lot, I had a dog. I mostly bought from companies that made good-quality products, because obviously good quality meant good for the planet. I knew about pandas and mountain gorillas and captive orcas. I thought I was so sustainable... actually I was incredibly naive. Lots of us are.

It was a period of my life where I needed to reset, work out what I wanted to do with my life. I had a great job. A seriously great job. I was an equestrian journalist. I interviewed Olympians and Paralympians, and got paid to do it. In the summer, I'd spend whole days outside learning from amazing experts and stunning horses. In the winter, I'd spend days writing articles and sorting through the latest equestrian fashion. I regularly pinched myself and considered how lucky I was. But, for a number of reasons, I wasn't happy and it was time to move on, but how do you move on from a dream job? I mean, poor me, right?

By this point I'd worked in a number of industries and was tired of moving around. I wanted to find my 'thing' or 'purpose', so I decided to work out what it was that I'd wanted to do when I was child. The answer to that turned out to be quite simple. I'd wanted to work with dolphins, specifically Flipper, but I wasn't too fussy. I'd wanted to trek into jungles and form meaningful connections with monkeys. I'd wanted to stand up to elephant poachers on African game reserves. So I did some googling, and it turns out that no matter how you package it, the best way to protect animals is to live more sustainably and encourage others to do the same. Climate change is destroying habitats – marine and land, unsustainable business practices have lead to widespread pollution of the natural environment, and deforestation is often tied into our insatiable appetite for pretty much everything, from avocados to fashionable clothing. Great, I thought, I already know all about this...

In the years since my initial research, I've learnt that I really knew very little about sustainability. The concept, which can be defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations, is mind-blowingly broad. I decided my career move needed to be towards sustainability and I studied for my One Planet MBA – a course with a focus on sustainability for businesses – and afterwards started working with great organisations, like eXXpedition. The knowledge I've gained over these last few years has changed my life.

For me, educating myself on sustainability was only the first step. It's important to live your values, so I started the process. Then I hit on another realisation... there are no completely sustainable products being produced right now. Everything you buy is a compromise. That's what this blog is about – it's a place for me to write about the 'sustainable purchases' I've made and the thought processes behind each of them. I'm learning how to be a more educated consumer all the time and I hope this blog will help us learn together. In fact, I'm hoping you'll all tell me if you know better. Let's help each other 'Buy Less, Buy Better'!

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