What's the Biggest Challenge for Families Looking to Shift Towards a More Sustainable Household?

Cost is a big one! Buying organic produce or opting for zero waste products are not always the cheapest option and can make a significant difference to your weekly grocery bill if you’re not growing or making your own.

Italy is now proposing a bill that offers financial incentives to shopkeepers who reduce plastic waste which means discounts for shoppers. Do you think this kind of model would be significant in allowing people to more easily commit to a more sustainable household? What kind of financial incentives should we see implemented in other parts of Europe?

I think plastic can be a distraction - cotton is the world’s most polluting crop! I think we need not focus on which kind of bag will save the planet and instead consider the impacts of what goes in that bag. Your Better Guide to reducing personal footprints has some points of food.

But one big challenge in food is the availability of ‘carbon-positive’ produce; something like 40% of EU budget goes on the Common Agricultural Policy aka farm subsidies - if this were to be reformed to support and transition to agroecological methods, that would sequester carbon, increase biodiversity, potentially create more nutrient dense food (through healthier soils), and still support other areas of the economy.

To address the question posited in the title of this topic, though, and acknowledging that it’s posted within ‘Homes’, I think we can’t ignore that having efficient housing is a big barrier for families being more sustainable - homes are heated by and have appliances run on fossil fuels, which can’t be sustained.

Thanks for your input, Ryan. You’re so right about plastic! It’s easy to demonise and therefore is very prevalent when it comes to conversations surrounding the ecological crisis, but the fact remains that there are much bigger, overarching threats. Cotton is a pollutant absolutely, but the idea of light-weighting and plastics when produced responsibly or as part of a circular model also work to significantly reduce carbon emissions.

And very much agree on your points surrounding carbon-positive produce and efficient housing too. Check out Low Carbon Home Challenge which is a great resource for working towards increased energy efficiency in the home!

I think conflicting information about what’s sustainable and what isn’t is both confusing and a challenge for families which can create barriers for those looking to move to a more sustainable way of life. It would be good to have a catch all guide of some sort to help families along the way…

And good old human psychology e.g. breaking habits, new habit forming, peer pressure, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance. Lots of research being done into this at the moment by some brilliant advocates.

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All this talk about plastic bags and charging for them drives me bonkers. In the US they bag your goods in paper bags these degrade quite quickly or are recycled. We need to take a tip off our American cousins and change to paper ASAP. Plus do all retailers really donate the plastic bag cash to charity…I mean all of it ?