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The Aesthetic of Sustainability

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

You’re on Instagram. You’re scrolling aimlessly on #sustainabilitytips. Alongside the inspirational quotes, colourful infographics, and “what does your zodiac sign say about your eco-friendly practices?” - what do you see? Something like this?

Sounds about right.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about alternatives to single-use plastic items. We mentioned Chilli bottles, bamboo toothbrushes, metal straws… When talking of sustainability and zero-waste, this is the kind of image we picture. A minimalist colour palette, a clean and sophisticated layout - the perfect Instagram photoshoot.

We concluded this in the previous article by saying we shouldn’t consider the sustainable lifestyle as a trend. However, that’s the kind of image we constantly see online when we search for tips and tricks. These kinds of youtube videos or TikTok hacks perpetuate the idea that sustainability has to be pretty. In reality, achieving sustainability isn’t - and shouldn’t be - that fancy.

Do we need a £40ish reusable bottle to be sustainable? Or a £60 zero-waste kit? Of course not.

All of these trendy items are simply not accessible and affordable to everyone. In her video about sustainability issues, Tiffany Ferg goes into more detail. Fundamentally, living a zero-waste or sustainable lifestyle should focus back on cutting unnecessary consumption, and less on looking pretty. For example, instead of buying brand new copper cutlery, linen napkins, or cute jars, you could use the fork and knife from last week’s takeaway, make use of an old t-shirt, or repurpose a pasta sauce container.

Although aesthetically very pleasing, there’s no need to set yourself idealistic goals, unreachable for the average person. It’s tempting to start your sustainable journey looking for inspiration on Pinterest; but we shouldn’t forget in the process that this shift should be done for the sake of the planet and not cute pictures. And it’s not about being perfect. It’s about being conscious of your impact and doing what you can, with your resources and your free time to make it work for you.


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