My sustainability journey

I grew up foraging mushrooms, shopping second hand, and eating berries from the back yard. My grandparents grew vegetables and part of my family practiced fishing. For a Finnish person, I feel like this was a somewhat regular childhood. If it wasn’t, I wasn’t aware of it.

When I was growing up I did plenty of things that I’d nowadays refer to as zero waste or sustainable living, but back in the days there didn’t seem to be anything special about it. It was common sense to pick your own goods from the forest and use the resources you could already access. Maybe because of this, it blows my mind that these little actions now need the sustainability labels to guide us towards the path of more conscious living.

I was late to the environmental movement. I had heard about things such as climate change and specie extinction from a fairly young age, but for some reason, these topics had never truly sunk in. I’m not saying that I was completely unconscious: I had been shopping second hand for most of my life, I was vegetarian, and I know that somewhere there icebergs were melting and that temperatures were rising.

Even when I learned more about the environmental destruction, it still took me a full year or two to understand what it really meant. What I mean by this is that I was willing to go vegan for the environment (more or less successfully), but it wasn’t until I learned about the climate justice aspect of the climate emergency when I truly decided that this had to stop. I couldn’t live the way I lived.

I started to pay more attention to what I consumed, how and where the products were made, and what changes I could make in my everyday life to make it more conscious. The hardest part was kissing goodbye to my long-distance travel plans. I had always loved travelling and I had spent long time periods of my adult years on the road with my backpack. I was particularly drawn on Asia and Latin America but I knew deep down that if I truly wanted to live a more sustainable life it meant that flying for fun had to go. It’s the biggest sacrifice I’ve made on my way zero waste journey.

I’m not perfect. Not everything I eat is locally grown and organic. Not everything I buy is package-free, not even recyclable. I still occasionally fly. And that’s all okay. I’m still vegan, I haven’t bought a single piece of clothing for over a year, most of my food is package free and local, and trying to learn how to make more daily products from scratch. That’s still a lot more than most people do.

My next plan is to really step up my DIY game. I want to learn how to make my own soap, hair products, and skincare. I want to learn how to utilize wild plants more effectively in my daily life, especially in the kitchen. I’m getting more and more interested in permaculture and I’d love to take some time off and work in a permaculture community for a bit. Last but not least I’ve applied for masters to educate myself more about the climate crisis.

Let’s see where life will take me!

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