Ads and marketing are a huge part of our lives today. Commercials, billboard, and online ads are everywhere.
Some ad campaigns focus on ‘educating’ potential consumers on why they absolutely need their particular product.
But these campaigns are not new; they’ve been part of society for many decades.
Some things you do today are likely the result of successful campaigns from the past – things like using paper towels or ziploc bags.
So, as you work towards a more sustainable and eco friendly lifestyle, I hope you can embrace unlearning some of that marketing.
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Unlearn Old Marketing Campaigns
We’re still bombarded with new toothbrush ads – some have new plastic bits to ‘deep clean’ your teeth and others are all about the electric brush.
The thing is toothbrushes have existed for thousands of years in the form of chewing sticks. These sticks are just as effective as a regular ole toothbrush.
Bristle toothbrushes were invented in China in the 1500s and they used boar bristles and bamboo handles. That sounds like the modern day eco friendly toothbrush to me – but it’s from the 1500s!
Nylon bristles were only developed in the 1930s and they were mass manufactured and marketed during the second world war.
Since then, they’ve gone full plastic! But they do the same exact job as the chewing stick and as the bamboo brushes. So, unlearn the new ads and reach for the more environmentally friendly toothbrushes.
Ancient Egyptians made a paste with rock salt, pepper, mint and flowers to clean their teeth. Other ancient cultures used crushed shells, bones, pumice, charcoal, herbs and oil to clean teeth.
In the 1870s, Colgate made a smooth toothpaste (likely with sodium lauryl sulphate) that came in small glass jars. By the 1890s, they switched to tubes.
Can you imagine if they stayed using those glass jars?
Today, there are lots of eco friendly toothpaste options without sodium lauryl sulphate that come in sustainable packaging. Unlearn the smooth-toothpaste-in-a-tube life and try some of these options instead.
For toilet paper
The toilet paper shortages in 2020 were a little baffling, weren’t they?
In ancient times, stones, seashells and animal furs were used to wipe up. Water was used to wash up too. Paper was first used in China in the 14th century. It took a century later for the west to adopt toilet paper.
Today, you’ll find toilet paper wrapped in plastic and more plastic. The wood pulp used to make the toilet paper may also be unsustainable.
But there are good eco friendly options. You can get toilet paper made from sustainable wood sources like bamboo that come wrapped in sustainable paper.
Or you can use water to wash up and dry your bum with a reusable cloth. Bidets are also becoming really popular now (get one from Amazon so you don’t have to worry about future toilet paper shortages).
Soap and soap making date back to ancient Babylonians and Egyptians. They used fats, oils, ashes and salts to make soap.
That isn’t very different today. For the most part, soap often comes plastic wrapped. The chemicals used to make soap are also concerning and less environmentally friendly than they could be.
So, try using soap made from sustainable ingredients like coconut and other vegetable oils. Also, many soaps come in sustainable, eco friendly packaging.
For liquid soap, you can make your own with soap nuts! Unlearn the bottled liquid soap, and learn how to make your own!
This is a huge topic. We’ve gone from small kitchen gardens to mega farms and from organic fertilizers and pesticides to harmful commercial ones. We’ve also gone from paper, glass, metal and cloth packaging to mostly plastic. Then, there is the one-stop grocery store.
So, how do we unlearn all of these?
Here are a couple eco friendly tips to reducing kitchen and food waste:
- grow your own herbs and food if you can
- buy from local organic farmers and artisans
- visit zero waste bulk stores to shop package-free
- take your own reusable bags to the store
- choose sustainable, biodegradable and recyclable packaging where possible
- preserve food to reduce food waste like freezing, canning, and more.
There are so many more ways to be eco friendly in the food sector. Here are a couple of my articles on this:
- How to Reduce Food Waste at Home? 7 Practical Tips to Try
- Zero Waste Guide to Using Brown Coconuts (make your own milk and oil)
For clean up
Magic erasers, plastic microfiber sheets, paper towels that pick up all the spills in one pass… I’m sure you can hear the ads now!
We’ve gone from sustainable brooms, brushes, and cloths to plastic. And let’s not forget every type of cleaner comes in plastic bottles too.
How do we unlearn this? It’s a tough one for sure. I struggle with this one. But, you can consider:
- repurposing old clothes to make paper towels, scrubbers, and mops
- make your own DIY sprays and vinegar with food scraps
- accept that soap, water and bleach are very effective disinfectants
- harness herbs and flowers for their natural fragrances
- use biodegradable garbage bags and poop bags.
There are so many more eco friendly ways to clean up. But I’ll stop here.
For beauty and fashion
Beauty campaigns dominate airways and social media. Fast fashion is another major income earner for marketers.
Creams, serums, washes, masks and makeup are all pushed on us but they contain endocrine disrupting chemicals, plastic microbeads and most come in wasteful plastic packaging.
As for fast fashion, we don’t need to throw out our entire closet every few months. The textile industry is a heavy polluter; plus there are the poor working conditions for workers, use of child labor, exposure to harmful chemicals and more.
It’s time to unlearn the marketing of all that!
Try instead to:
- experiment with eco friendly makeup and skincare brands
- explore DIY recipes to make your own mascara, lip balm, rose water, aloe vera gel and more
- try oil cleansing as a face wash option
- go thrift shopping to find wonderful ‘new’ clothes
- donate the clothes you don’t need again
- try repairing, redesigning and repurposing your own old clothes
The eco friendly possibilities are endless here… We just need to unlearn the multi-billion dollar marketing strategies that have bombarded us by preying on our insecurities and selling us an unattainable definition of beauty.
You are beautiful as you are! And eco friendly living and respecting the planet are beautiful too.
So, as you move towards a zero waste, eco friendly lifestyle, start by unlearning!