Is Sustainability unsustainable?

Bron Eichbaum commerce commonsense organics shampoo bar soap sustainable living sustainablility

Even the title of this blog will incense people - it would be if I wasn't writing it.  But is Sustainability unsustainable?  

What prompted this little rant is when I finally realised what a sucker I was for trying so hard to be sustainable - and to what extent I was getting ripped off.
Is sustainability now another form of commerce that only the top 5% can really truly afford?

I have been wearing myself out this year to be as sustainable as I possibly can.  I realised that the one thing we all need to make this happen is the one thing that very few of us have - time.  I'm exhausted.  I'm not giving up, don't worry about that. I(we) can't afford to.  But I also can't afford to - financially I mean.  Sustainable living is expensive.

Has sustainability become just another layer of consumerism where the guilt levels are so high that we will pay anything to be seen walking out with our refils.  I reckon it has.

Just last week I went to Commonsense Organics in Kilbirnie to do my regular run of refils for the household cleaners, shampoo, and conditioner.  I've even got my daughter Chili coming along for this particular ride - she loves the feel good factor of making a difference too.  I purchased 4 items and it cost me $49.50.  On the way home Chili and I stopped at New World for a couple of things for dinner and there I saw the large Tresemme shampoo and conditioner (the same size I had just refilled) on special for $6.49 each.  They are usually only about 9.99 each anyway - but this did mean that I had just paid significantly more for all four products by doing a refill in existing bottles.  Where is the incentive in this?

Hey, I'm not getting down on Commonsense Organics either, I love their stores - they are just trying to do the right thing as well.  But if the margins aren't with them, is it their suppliers?  And if they label themselves sustainable products - is this essentially true if the average person can't afford them? 

So at lunchtime today I thought I'd pop down to the Eco Store at The Sustainability Trust on a mission to find a Shampoo and Conditioner bar.
There was one brand there selling these but I've tried this particular brand before and it wasn't for me.  
I also saw refill for household cleaners - a brand that Commonsense sell Figgy & Co.  I didn't enquire about the refil price but I did see a very standard size bottle of household cleaner selling for $20.  Hmmmm.  Spend $20 on a sustainable one or just go and buy another 'sustainable' brand in a new bottle at the supermarket for $5?  

I rest my case.

Where does this leave us - or more to the point where does this leave Mother Earth?  
And how the hell can anyone of a minimum wage even consider getting living the sustainable way?

My mission this weekend is to try and make my own.  But there's that old catch22 again - I'll need to put aside some time for this.  I'll try and do that after I've drained the wormfarm, put the dog poo in the dog compost, buried the Bokashi compost in the garden, made my kombucha, and walked the dogs.

Kids - fend for yourselves this weekend - Mums busy.


If you have any great recipes to share please let me know.  






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  • GWyn Jones on

    The one thing that is not being discussed and the very point you raise Bron, is that the cost to be sustainable is going to be substantial for very household. Our climate change policies so far, without factoring in the cost to your household purchasing increases such as blogged above has been estimated at $12billion per year for the NZ ZCBill . The increase to your household of the ZCB bill alone is about $8k cost per year. And this still doesn’t address the real issue in the room of people not wanting to change behaviour at a personal level. So I really understand your exhaustion at trying to minimise your own man made emissions profile. Cheaper products of course is partly the result of corporatisation.

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