Sustainability Shaming: What Is It and Why We Should Stop

Sustainability. A noun we are all familiar with at this point in time.

Many of you may have personal sustainability agendas such as using less single-use plastics, consuming less red meat, and/or using public transportation! Whatever it may be, as the passion for eco-change flourishes, the act of sustainability shaming is also growing.

Sustainability shaming is a growing phenomenon where people ridicule others for acting unsustainably, and publicly mock the lack of other’s efforts and their hypocrisy.

As shaming has been becoming prevalent on social media, a part of it has evolved into attacks on those who are publicly active with their sustainability efforts.

I have seen many examples on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, and marketing campaigns where people shame others for not trying hard enough or for being hypocritical by:

  • Calling out a plastic-free advocate for using any type of plastic
  • Hate comments towards environmental activists for taking a plane to travel
  • Not buying organic produce

Honestly, the list is endless. There is a way to sustainability shame everything and anyone!

Why we shouldn’t shame ! !

Nobody should feel the need to justify their actions and efforts, whether their actions are small or large, towards a more-eco friendly future. Judging other’s efforts is unkind and completely unnecessary! (imo) For anybody to make any sustainable effort should be complimented and praise. Us humans are not perfect! We all have a carbon footprint whether we like it or not, however, it is up to the individual on which eco-friendly actions they are able and choose to take.

Also, not everybody can be environmentally savvy to the fullest,

  • I and many of you may also have realized that it’s not cheap going full-on enviro! Vegan and organic alternatives are much pricier and don’t get me started on certain products that have hit the market today.
  • If you can take on these pricier alternative actions, that’s great :,) But as a university student, I may or may not have the extra cash to splurge on $20 bamboo fiber gloss and an $18 shampoo bar…


Sustainability shaming can also be done onto ourselves.

There are many instances where I feel guilty and ashamed of myself when I knew I could have put in more effort or taken different actions.

  • I sometimes, but rarely, forget my cotton tote bags and mesh bads when I go grocery shopping and I have to result to plastic bags.
  • I love Ziploc bags and their conveniency, but feel guilty when I use them over reusable containers
  • I have yet to jump on the train of people who carry around metal straws
  • The list can go on and on

But, we shouldn’t be knocking ourselves down for what we should’ve done or could’ve done. Instead, we should be praising ourselves for even the smallest efforts, even if they may seem insignificant at first.

  • I buy bulk when I can, bringing my own mason jars and containers to prevent further plastic-waste
  • Eh-hem! I bring my own cotton bags when I go grocery shopping
  • I use a reusable water bottle every day
  • I take care of various plants at home

These examples are just a few I can think of off the top of my head, but it’s a start and I believe it contributes to a bigger picture.

Environmentalism is not perfectionism.

Everyone has their own goals and their pace.



Julie Bang

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