It can be hard to have a more sustainable lifestyle. I'm sure you care, but hey, you're not to blame, it's not always an easy start.
Listen up. We had a chat with Marieke Eyskoot, author of This is a Good Guide, and we have a piece of advice for you: give a shot to this book, it's well written, funny, personal and beautiful to look at.
I mean come on: a nice picture starring a cool Repack. Of course it caught my eye. I was curious to know more and the reviews were super good. So I bought it for myself - and wow!
This is such a comprehensive read - covering every facets of sustainability. It's made for a normal human being and at no point I felt preached at felt guilty for being less than sustainably perfect. It makes you feel empowered rather than overwhelmed.
It does not matter if you're all new to the subject or really into it. I'm sure you'll discover new insights in this big boy. It's filled with a crazy amount of concrete and positive tips regarding fashion, beauty, food, home, work, and travel.
Don't take my word for it and listen to the author herself.
What's the story behind this book?
It's based upon, and inspired by, all the questions I have been getting over the last twenty years or so - since I've been working in sustainable fashion and lifestyle. At every birthday party, event or meeting and on social media I get roughly the same - people want to know how they can start, what they can do, where to find it, what to look out for.
So I wrote this book to try and give as many answers as I possibly can, to enable everyone to go for it.
Luckily it seems to work, as I've been honoured enough to receive lots of responses of readers who feel empowered, who say they finally know what to choose, who are really inspired and have immediately started taking some steps, who now know what they want to study, who feel that it's the perfect gift for friends or even that it has changed their life. So cool and amazing!
« I'm certainly no saint, and you don't have to be one either. Striving for perfection only discourages and stifles you, because it's simply not feasible, yet »
What are your tips for someone who is interested in a sustainable lifestyle but overwhelmed by all the information?
Apart from read my book? Because that's why I made it, to help everyone who wants to live more consciously, but doesn't know how or where to start. Otherwise - begin with aspects of your life where you can make the biggest difference. Food: eat as little animal products (meat, fish, dairy) as you can: the impact is huge. Buy less stuff: saves you money and makes you happier too. Don't fly as much: going by train is way more relaxed anyway. And if you go for smaller steps, take them in areas you do every day. Change your breakfast to a plant based one, travel to work by bike or public transport, buy your groceries at independent, sustainable stores. Also: Realise that it's about good, not perfect. About smart choices, doing what you can and what suits you. This is why my book is called a good, not a perfect guide. I'm certainly no saint, and you don't have to be one either. Striving for perfection only discourages and stifles you, because it's simply not feasible, yet. So that makes some people feel that if they can't do it completely right, they, never mind, don't do anything at all. Which is such a waste of all the great steps you could have taken. Also, don't hide behind those thoughts, just start. You will discover lots while you go. Being sustainable and conscious doesn't mean your life should suffer, become meagre or boring. On the contrary, I'm convinced that it can be better, more interesting, and more varied once we stop automatically choosing the most familiar path. Sustainability doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't do anything anymore, it actually gives you more: quality, possibilities, new flavours, positivity. This is what I want to show - and why I made the book: I've done the research into all these things and can help you make these choices. Together we have the power to make it happen. We made this world, so we can change it too. Who else?
How do you feel about the explosion of eCommerce?
It both makes sustainable brands more available, and creates more impact, right? One of the most frustrating things about online shopping, is that everything is shown on supermodel-sized, perfectly (in the eyes of the industry) proportioned people. So it'll never look the same on you, and you can only guess if it might fit or suit. Resulting in disappointment, frequent returning/environmental pressure (also because of buying in multiple sizes, as you just don't know!) as well as insecurity about our bodies. What would really help, and what I'd love, is if webshops would show models with different body types and sizes alongside each item, so you can see it in size 36 or 44. Measure yourself well, and aim to mostly buy from stores that show the measurements of the clothes. With shoes, I sometimes e-mail to ask for the length and width. Why not?
« Choose labels who work with RePack, of course!»
The working conditions in large distribution centres often leave a lot to be desired: it's hard work for little, the same applies to the package deliverers. Margins are low, and competition is brutal. Parcel transport causes considerable pollution and CO2 emissions. Particularly if you buy several sizes to try and for sure will need to return items. Or shop abroad, meaning that your clothes have to come from even further away. And then there's the huge box delivered to your doorstep containing a tiny necklace, as well as plastic, filling, you name it (although I do love receiving a fun, personal card). Try not to get things sent backwards and forwards, recycle packaging as much as possible and if you can, get your purchases to come from as close to home as possible - and choose labels who work with RePack, of course.
"Sustainability is just an expensive trend" - How do you answer that?
1- That something's cheap doesn't mean it doesn't cost much, but that someone other than you is paying the price. Sustainable products aren't too expensive: regular ones are too cheap. The cost of environmental and social exploitation hasn't been factored in. Such prices are simply not possible, without people, animals and the environment having to suffer. They're being exploited to facilitate our lifestyle, they subsidise our standard of living. The real costs are passed on to people who have a lot less than we do.
2- Living sustainably isn't necessarily expensive, on the contrary: buying quality over quantity, choosing second hand, eating (mostly) plant based, flying and buying less all saves money. Having said that, for me accessibility is some of the most important things in sustainability - by no means should it become elitist. It's great that investment pieces are available, but then you do need to have the disposable income to be able to pay for it. Saving up for something of course, but we all need to contribute to make it as inclusive as possible - by supporting ethical brands so they can grow, buy promoting secondhand as normal, by accepting no-waste, frugal living as okay or even smart.
3 - It's not a trend.
«My goal is to become obsolete and out of work - that no-one needs my books, talks, advice anymore»
What do you worry about?
My goal is to become obsolete and out of work - that no-one needs my books, talks, advice anymore, because sustainable options are normal (and you don't even have a choice anymore), because it has become illegal to sell and produce items that have been made through exploitation (how is that still legal now?), because everyone is convinced of the clear benefits of circularity, climate protection and social justice. I sometimes worry that, even though I see a massive change and there has never been so much attention and sense of urgency, it goes too slowly to make that happen in my lifetime. But then I am famous for my impatience ;)
Marieke, if you had to synthesise quickly, what's a sustainable lifestyle anyway?
Sustainable for me means 'with respect for people and our environment'.
So - a way of living that does that.
So, can we count you in the #reuserevolution?
Of course! #thisisagoodrevolution #thisisagoodguide
!! You can actually order this beauty in a Repack. Too good?
Pictures: Melody Lieftink