It’s not always easy being honest with myself but for me, it’s the first step in becoming more aware of what’s going on in my life and around me. So, here is a glimpse of honesty from my life – a little bit of the daily hypocrisy I’m trying to come to terms with.
A dressed-up mango
A few days ago I went shopping with my kids at our local supermarket. We went to the fresh produce section and picked out some fruit. My son spotted some mangos and he asked me if we could have some. I said no and started going on about how mangos are imported from South America where they are probably grown with water-intensive farming methods, robbing the local population of their water resources. By the time mangos got to our supermarket shelves they had already crossed more borders and produced more CO2 emissions than us. Needless to say that my son had wandered off to find something else to purchase right after I had said no. And because he is my son he went to the local apples and filled our cotton produce bag with them. I was happy and we continued with our shopping.
A few minutes later we entered the chilled section with different kinds of milk and juices. My kids both really like smoothies so we packed a carton of smoothie with … mangos.
Only when we got home and I unpacked the bags did I realise what a hypocrite I had been. Turning down fresh mangos but happily buying them pureed and packaged. It really made me wonder about myself.
I have more examples I could share and I bet you do, too but rather than that let me take a stab at a solution instead. Why is it that I (and you, presumably) want to do good in the world by shopping and living sustainably but we keep falling into the same trap? The simplest answer is that we are humans. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements, offers, opportunities to throw our principles overboard and go against our values. And I know there is truth to that because that is our reality in our modernised world. But by blaming the outside world I’m making it too easy on myself. No one forces me to do anything, not even my children when they insist they must have something or otherwise they die.
I think the solution lies within each one of us, in the decision to act differently. And the first step in this solution is brutal honesty. What is it I want to see in the world and how can I support that? I admit that’s not an easy question to answer. The key is, however, to be honest, and to follow through with it.
Think before you shop, every time
I have come to realise that not only do I not need mangos in my diet in Sweden but that they also stand for an economic system (environmental degradation, human exploitation) I don’t want to support. Now, I need to follow this through and cut out all mangos from my shopping cart.
I know I won’t save the world if I stop buying something but I also know that I can set an example. If not for other customers but at least for my kids.
When I speak of mangos here I’m using an example among many. Another would be the fact that although I buy my clothing second hand I’m not shopping for clothes as well as I would like to. I have caught myself buying clothes that I only sort of liked because they were cheap. I then wore it a few times only to realise that it wasn’t my style or colour. Although I could feel less responsible for my choice of purchasing the item because it was already second hand, that’s not the way to shop sustainably.
Again, it starts with honesty and a moment of telling myself off for being stupid. And then with constant, sometimes daily reminders, of what I have learned: think before you shop.
I will probably never fully stop being a hypocrite in my own eyes. I will probably continue to make snap decisions that don’t align with my values because, just for a moment, I forget about them. After all, I’m human and I can only try. However, I will try to stand by my values and not get sucked into a consumerist culture I don’t want to support. And only when I have local (and seasonal) mangos available will I eat one again. I can’t wait!