A Material Girl Goes Green

Learning the Eco Language

Episode Summary

Learning the language of a new lifestyle is so important, it begins to help you connect with your new normal. In this episode we discuss what all the eco "words" mean and what you need to know and what you don't.

Episode Transcription

Lesley:                  So this move toward living in a more environmentally friendly way takes a complete lifestyle change. I'm coming to realize that this is a totally new thing. It reminds me a lot of when I moved into a more Keto friendly lifestyle, and learning the language was super, super important. Like I felt like I wasn't part of the club until I knew what people were talking about. It's basically the beginning of it, right? So today's episode is on what's the language when you're learning something about a eco-friendly lifestyle, what do the words mean? What is, what are they referencing? So our amazing expert Jody is going to help us better understand the language of living eco-friendly. Hello, Jodi.

Jodi:                       Hello.

Lesley:                  As you can imagine, I have a ton of questions. I've done a lot of research and it seems like the more research I do, the more questions I have, especially about the language itself. Cause there seems like there's so many words that feel to me in my ignorance, like they're kind of saying the same thing. So kind of getting your 2 cents worth of what if that's true. So I've got a list, you know, I've been making a list of all my questions so I can ask you and share them with everybody else. I'm just going to run through and be a little dramatic because there's a lot of them. So sustainable, from what I've seen, it's like sustainable living, sustainable fashion, eco-friendly, environmentally friendly, green, zero waste, low waste, simple living, slow living, conscious consumerism, single use plastics. And there's a lot of re's, recycle, reuse, repurpose, repair, reduce. There's a lot of words to learn.

Jodi:                       There are, and you're right to compare it to another type of lifestyle change. If you're gonna start a workout routine or if you're going to start a new diet regimen, you need to sort of learn a little bit about that. There's a curve and it can be intimidating. Yeah, it can be intimidating. And then you'll find that some things are right for you and some things are not, and you just kind of go from there. There are a lot of words to learn. And some are more meaningful than others. Some can even lead you down the wrong path potentially. So, it is important to be informed about the language and then that can help you make good decisions.

Lesley:                  Awesome. So start me out. So we're talking like green, eco-friendly, environmentally friendly,

Jodi:                       Right. Those are the sort of general blanket terms and those are ones that get thrown around a lot and they're the ones that I try to caution people against. If they're starting out because, there is such a thing as greenwashing, just to throw another word at you.

Lesley:                  I've heard that word yes.

Jodi:                       To throw another word at you, greenwashing tends to just throw those eco-friendly terms all over products and you do have to do a little bit of research to learn whether these things are in fact eco-friendly. Yeah, I, and I,

Lesley:                  I know like organic, that was a big deal for awhile. Everybody wanted to put organic on their product and sometimes it was true and kind of, sometimes it wasn't. So this feels very much the same.

Jodi:                       That one got regulated. So if it's organic, now it's organic and that means something. Some of these are, and some of them are not. For example, they're all refer to things and practices that try to be more aligned with protecting natural resources, protecting the environment. And that's all, that's what we're all sort of getting into it for. Some of them can be sales tactics, however, so, for example, if you see a styrofoam package and it has a recycle symbol on it and it might even say eco-friendly,

Lesley:                  Even I know that's not right.

Jodi:                       Right, right. Yeah. So be wary of those types of things. he word natural is often also employed. A lot of products will put, they'll use earth tone colors and they'll use leaves on the packaging to make it look more ecofriendly. So typically, a Google search can help you out. I can always help with more specific questions about things, but, as you learn more, you'll, you'll begin to spot those things that are not necessarily sincere.

Lesley:                  I see myself getting a little more wise as I'm walking to the grocery store and stuff as I see things and they just don't feel right. definitely I can tell beginning, I'm beginning to tell the difference. So sustainable of course with candles, that's a big thing that I talk about and work with. What does sustainable mean then?

Jodi:                       Sustainable is another broad term, but it's a specific term. It has a real meaning. So sustainable means anything that can be perpetuated without using up whatever resources are needed to make that thing, whether it's a process or a product. So sustainable can be used in economic terms. You're not spending more than you're making and think of it that way. You're not using up more resources, than are reproduced to make a thing. So a sustainable, fashion for example, is something that doesn't cause pollution, doesn't use up more natural resources, than can be reproduced.

Lesley:                  So am I right in saying that sustainable and reuse is a similar concept is that,

Jodi:                       um, I think if I'm a little differently, so sustainable is more like a process. It's like the large scale version of everything that goes into say, farming. So sustainable farming, um, doesn't use up more nutrients than go into the store soil. It's a cycle.

Lesley:                  Gotcha.

Jodi:                       It's a cycle. So it's returning nutrients back into the soil as it's growing things that, that take nutrients and it's continually being replenished and that does it.

Lesley:                  Sustainable to me is also, like you said, with a cycle, it's kind of like leading into the future that it is a sustainable, you can continue to grow those crops or you can continue to use that product because it is a sustainable cycle.

Jodi:                       Very much so. Yes, you can think of sustainable that way. It is something that can be perpetuated indefinitely because it replenishes itself. Okay. All right.

Lesley:                  So bomp bomp bomp zero waste. That makes me like have hives because the thought of zero waste. I just don't know if that's something that I could do. Um, but I'm fascinated by the people that do. I mean, that's a big deal,

Jodi:                       Right? Well, think of it this way. Nobody's really zero waste. It's not a real, um, attainable place to be, but it's somewhere we try to encourage people to, um, go towards. So, um, for example, we do a publication, our department is called, um, our waste watcher. We titled it this version we called. "The road to zero" waste because it's something you're always going toward. You're always moving toward. You can always get better. Those people who live three years in the only trash they produce is in a tiny Mason jar. They can still get better. You can always move closer to it. It's not attainable. It's don't think of it as an intimidating thing in that way. Think of it as you can always do a little more. You can always do a little more. You can always take another step.

Lesley:                  So you're basically always in this lifestyle, you're always moving toward that goal, right? That's what, when you purchase things or when you use things or whatever you're, you're bringing into your life that is going to be wasted at some point. Looking at those and trying to essentially make them as close to zero waste as possible is kind of the goal along the journey.

Jodi:                       It is and it's, um, it's also a, to think about, the upstream, not to throw another word, but upstream sources of things that you're using. So instead of thinking, Oh, can I recycle this? Think about, do I need this? Where does this come from? What resources, what kind of, you know, fuels, what transportation, what kind of materials were used to make this before it came to me? So, it's thinking, it's thinking ahead of yourself. It's thinking of your own use of something and then it's thinking down the line to what will happen with it.

Lesley:                  And we will on Instagram have kind of a breakdown of these different words. So, um, you can kind of go to one place, there'll be a graphic that'll show some of the different words we talked about and then what Jody helped us to understand they were, they what that really meant. Cause I can invent all kinds of stuff in my, in my mind. Um, so the simple slow living lifestyle, conscious consumerism and minimalism, it feels like that's kind of similar type of, of thoughts.

Jodi:                       It is definitely is a component of that. So if you don't want to think about zero waste, if that's a little,

Lesley:                  that might be me.

Jodi:                       It's a little much at this point. Um, and, and that gets a lot of crazy criticism for that reason. Um, just think of it as slowing down and being more conscious of what you're consuming. Think of it as if I need this thing, um, where can I get that? Maybe that's used, where can I get it that, um, maybe I can borrow this thing. I don't even need to buy it for myself. Think about, um, do I need it, you know, do I need this thing at all? And, and what's the best choice I can make for, the purchases that I make sure.

Lesley:                  So that when you're standing at the rack, it's just making some of those decisions. And I think about that a lot of times. I will think about that with the slow fashion versus fast fashion. That to me is kind of an in your face way of looking at that. Are you going to go thrift? Right. So from a slow fashion perspective, going to the thrift stores and purchasing things that, because you purchase them, they won't be thrown away. They won't hit the landfill when you use them, at least versus the, you know, the fast fashion, which is cheaply made. You know, it's not gonna last very long, but just more and more and more and more clothes in my closet versus really good quality stuff.

Jodi:                       Right, exactly. So that's where the kind of minimalism concept and being conscientious in your consumerism comes in. So do you need it in the first place? Can you create a nice wardrobe or about of basics that you can switch and mix and match, mix and match and have less to begin with. Can you borrow stuff? Can you get stuff secondhand, have a swap with your friends and trade the stuff you don't wear and the stuff they don't wear.

Lesley:                  Um, that's way more fun. And yeah. Um, so the re words all the repurpose and recycle and re reuse and um, there's a lot of re stuff.

Jodi:                       That's true. And in school you might've learned the three R's, reduce, reuse, recycle. Much of the other ones aren't subcategories of those. But the important thing is to remember that those are in order. You should reduce first, then reuse and then recycle. And if you do all of those things to the best of your ability, you'll produce very little trash and waste at all. So, um, re-purposing is just another way to reuse. Repairing is an important way to reuse items as well that we don't always think about with our electronics and things like that. You know, because as you mentioned, some stuff is so cheap now, um, try to invest in good things that can be repaired, and in brands that support that.

Lesley:                  So absolutely. So it takes a little bit of investigation and listening to these types of podcasts and understanding a little bit about what, again, go back to the language, right? Who are you purchasing from? And then what are they talking about? Cause if they're, if they're being conscientious about, um, environmentally friendly practices, they're going to talk about it, right? I mean, we're gonna know more than likely somewhere on their website they're going to say, these are the, and hopefully it's not greenwashing, right? But they're going to be talking about, it's not going to be hidden.

Jodi:                       They should have details to like, I mean, Patagonia is one, a great example. Um, they will take their clothing back and resell it if you're done with it. They stand behind their quality and um, it can be repaired so it has a long life. Um, and there are other good brands out there that have that reputation. There's an app called good guide you can download if it's things like, Oh, let me write that down. Like personal care products, um, beauty products. You can scan the barcode and it will give a report card.

Lesley:                  That's awesome. That is very cool. Well that's great to know then. So when you're out shopping, um, okay, well we can't, we can't talk about all of this and not talk about the single use plastics. That's a big, big thing that a lot of people are talking about. And you see all the pictures of the damage and the just horrific. Yeah.

Jodi:                       That's one that has really come to light in the last couple of years and people are really, I'm reacting to because we've all seen the turtles with this straw in their nose and it's horrible. Yes. And, um, you know, ocean water is just a soup of discarded plastic. So, um, single use plastic is something that came to light, recently, recently speaking and you know, generationally, for convenience and it's something then we all became used to and expecting, when it's just kind of crazy to, mine petroleum or drill petroleum out of the ground and they get this, yeah. Drill petroleum out of the ground and created into plastic, ship it somewhere else, created into a plastic utensil, ship it somewhere else, sell it in a box of other plastic utensils to be used for minute for us. I mean, yeah, it's crazy. And then thrown away. And the thing with plastic, it never goes away. It does not ever go away. We'll break down into smaller pieces where it can be consumed by smaller animals and then moved up the food chain, but it never ever goes away. So single use plastic for sure is something we're trying to encourage people to swap out of their lives whenever possible.

Lesley:                  Well in that, you know, being new to this, that was kind of in learning how to do it. It very much felt like there was a lot of swapping. Like I w I would swap out a straw like a plastic straw and carry one with me, um, swap out the styrofoam containers or the deli containers and try to bring my own whenever I could. So it felt like a ton of eco swapping is going on, which it's so easy. I mean, if you just take it with you and get in the habit of taking it with you, it felt way more intimidating for me before I started doing it. Yeah. Once I did it and had all my supplies, um, it wasn't hard at all. It really wasn't hard at all. The hardest thing was figuring out where I could go. That wouldn't force me to take a styrofoam container. It wouldn't force me to take a deli container.

Jodi:                       Yeah. And those are going to be, you're going to be their new best customer, right. Because they're, they do or they're accommodating. Being conscientious about your wishes. Absolutely. And it's the same way I am. Um, we have a campaign called BYO everywhere you go that we launched this past spring, um, for just that thing. And that's what's also the positive spin on this is you see those devastating images of the plastics, but it's so easy to do something about it and you can't, there are many things you can't change that's feel above your reach. But this is easy. Put a fork in your purse and carry it around with you.

Lesley:                  and it carry a water bottle and carry a coffee cup. I mean, and their arm. It seems like there's more and more businesses that are open to that, that will let you bring in a coffee cup or a, uh, you know, a real nice coffee mug, not just the pitch away single use. Because I did not know this before, but I have learned from you that the coffee cups are not recyclable. Right. The coffee cups in the, in the, are the lids?

Jodi:                       The lids sometimes are if there are no, that shocked me.

Lesley:                  Like I had no idea. So that's a thing. That's just, I have my little kit in my car that if I'm going somewhere, I try to grab those things and take them with me. Exactly. So, all right. Um, so again, don't forget, we have a summary for this in our Instagram feed, which is a material girl goes screen a. Also, if you guys are listening, you have any questions at all, please message us in the Instagram and let us know. We would love to address those, the questions that you have specifically. So we are so glad that you joined us. If you have any friends that are moving along this journey, send them our way. We would love to have them a part of the journey with us and we really appreciate you listening.