Life as We Know it: How to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle Amid the Pandemic
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Life as We Know it: How to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle Amid the Pandemic

Life as We Know it: How to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle Amid the Pandemic

Parenting | November 12, 2021
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Sustainability has become a buzzword among many lately. But what does it mean to live a sustainable lifestyle? Celine Gabriel Lim looks into the whys and hows in this piece.

I’ve been looking up ways on how to live a more sustainable life a lot these last few months. The devastating global impact of COVID-19 has made it so apparent on how deeply connected we all are on this planet, and this heightened sense of interconnectedness made me think long and hard about what sustainability means to me.

The word itself is laden with so many layers that it can be incredibly overwhelming. It’s also been getting some bad press these days—as something that is merely “on-trend”, resulting in some brands “green-washing” their products.

And isn’t that so confusing? Where and how does a person with sincere intentions of traversing this path of sustainability even begin?

Proudly wearing vintage. Photo taken in Brighton beach, UK

The Whys of Sustainability

I suppose the very first thing a person must determine before making this choice is “why”. In my case, as with most things these days, it boils down to my daughter. I worry about the world her generation will inherit when we’re gone. I also think about how I want to raise her as a person who thinks of others—not just herself.

And I want to do my best to lead by example.

The pandemic has altered the way we live and how we interact with each other, and having this in mind makes me feel that sustainability isn’t just a lifestyle choice to make—but more of a shared responsibility that we all have. After all, aren’t these ideas, principles, and concepts that we really ought to be building our and our children’s lives around?

My daughter Iris

Of Conscious Choices and a Lifestyle Switch

I really love the simple way my friend, Sarah Claudio, defined this lifestyle. She embraced it over a decade ago—not just as a way of life, but also in business as the operator of Echo Store (Environment & Community Health Organization Store) in Davao City. As a graduate of the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, where the slow food movement began, she did a deep dive into the advocacy and embraced it ever since.

Thus, in her words, living a sustainable lifestyle means making a conscious choice to “love yourself, love your community and love your environment”.

With my sister-in-law, Anna Gabriel, visiting the University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG) in Pollenzo, Italy, where the Slow food movement was born.
Sarah Claudio, a graduate of UNISG, Social Entrepreneur and Slow Food Advocate, giving us a tour of the university’s Wine Bank, which was founded in 2001 with the objective of preserving the historical importance of Italian Wine.

Quantity Over Quality

Fashion change-maker Ruby Veridiano—who was part of the social responsibility team of the Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) Group in Paris—is now currently working for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in the US. She gave good insight for people like me who want to make changes, but feel overwhelmed by all the “rules” and are afraid of making mistakes.

In our conversation she shared a powerful quote by Anne Marie Bonneau, a longtime advocate for Zero Waste living, which goes, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

According to Veridiano, if we just take it a day at a time—making better choices as we go along and not beating ourselves up when we falter—that’s already a step in the right direction. Some people are so afraid of being perceived as a “poser” that they shy away from living a more sustainable lifestyle. What’s more, a lot of us think that if we can’t commit 100%, then why bother at all?

Sustainable Fashion Storyteller, Ruby Veridiano, wearing Anthill Fabric. Ethically handmade by Filipino artisans.

Perfectly Imperfect—and That’s Okay!

Some of the changes we need to make include doing away with this unnecessary pressure that we put on ourselves to be “perfect” at sustainable living. And, quite frankly, this also includes how we judge other people’s efforts. Imagine the collective difference we could make in the world if we all, at the very least, commit to trying and helping each other learn and get better at it. It would be monumental progress for sure!

Veridiano shares many easy ways we can switch to a sustainable lifestyle. For example, while it is true that sustainable fashion brands cost more than fast fashion brands, secondhand swap parties with friends or shopping vintage is a great and economical alternative. This is particularly wonderful when it comes to children’s clothes, as kids easily outgrow the items before they even start to show any wear and tear. So yes, swapping their secondhand clothes with other moms just makes a lot of sense.

And while there are many ethical reasons why fast fashion may not be the better choice, Veridiano also is quick to add that if there’s something you really like, just make sure to do a quick check like “Can I wear this item at least 30 times?” If you can at least commit to that, it’s still a better choice than purchasing something you’ll only use a few times.

Shopping with this mindset will also train you to be more mindful of important details that will help keep the longevity of your items, such as the quality of fabric, stitching, fabric care, and storage.

Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Ruby Veridiano wearing French vintage. Sustainable and incredibly chic.

Tips and Tricks on Sustainable Living

There are many ways we can live a more sustainable lifestyle, so I asked a few friends who’ve already adopted more conscientious habits for some of their tips. What I’ve learned, mainly, was that there really were a lot of things we could do to make sustainability a part of our kids’ everyday lives!

For example, I really like how Hindy made the respect for nature a central part of how she raises her kids, and how Kimi decided to really get a feel for what Olivia likes before buying her any new (or secondhand) toys and carriers. As for me, I’m looking forward to seeing how Iris takes to composting if I ever try it out myself. And when she’s bigger, I’ll start talking to her about responsible consumerism like Bianca does with her teen.

Overall, I just need to remember that—as Veridiano reminded me—I don’t need to be perfect when it comes to sustainability. Getting started can be just as simple as asking a friend about one simple thing she does to reduce her waste and then giving it a try. What’s more important is that I love myself, my community, and my environment and that I choose to do something with that love.

Tip: Before you purchase, ask yourself if you can wear it at least 30x. Like this stylish dress that I’m wearing as a cover up, locally designed in the Philippines by Yoya.

Making the World a Better Place for Our Children

And because the main reason we want to have a more sustainable lifestyle is to give our children a healthier world to live in, we should teach our little ones to have that love, too. After all, it’ll be their turn to take over this planet a few decades from now, and it would be wonderful if they carried on these good habits as they grow up. Maybe somewhere down the line, they can pass on this sense of responsibility to their own children.

The COVID-19 pandemic is temporary, and sooner rather than later, we, along with our children, will gain back the complete freedom to explore this wonderful world that sits just outside our windows. When that day comes, I hope we will do so with a lot more respect, love, and care.

The beautiful campus of UNISG in Pollenzo. Italy, behind me

RELATED STORIES:

Demanding Sustainability in the Fashion Industry

Arizona’s Musings on Sustainable Living and Making Good Beauty Choices

The Before Times: How Embracing Change Can Be a Good Thing

With Celine’s trusted eye for the chic, unique and stylish, it was only natural for her to dabble in modeling, TV hosting, being a newspaper columnist and PR director. She transformed her very diverse background into several growing enterprises, namely Mullenlowe Marc (formerly known as ARC Public Relations), a healthy snack brand called Honest Junk and anti-mosquito cologne cult classic, Kiele Naturals. But nothing gives her more fulffillment than her greatest accomplishment — being a mom to her daughter, Iris. This mompreneur is excited to share tips, advice and all around good vibes on all things parenting.
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