It wasn’t so long ago that a sustainable lifestyle implied by extension a luxury lifestyle. Sure, we could all shop with our cloth tote bags, drink from reusable water bottles, and make an effort here and there to purchase the sustainable option. But not everyone was able to run out and buy a Prius, or more recently, a Tesla. And sustainably sourced foods have generally come with a premium price tag.
As a result of the high cost of living sustainability, a lifestyle built around the idea was as much a source of status as of principles. And from a pragmatic standpoint, that’s perfectly fine. After all, status is something that we as consumers strive for, and if that drives us to pursue a more earth-friendly existence, who really cares that the intention wasn’t born of a more pure or noble ideal? In fact, eco-status has done for the cause what eco-terrorism could not.
As a result of consumer demand, the market has naturally responded and today, a sustainable lifestyle can also be an affordable one. So now, there’s really no excuse not to be living in a more eco-conscious fashion. It’s with that in mind, that I offer a few of my favorite examples of practicing sustainability in everyday life.
One of the most significant impacts you can make, of course, is in your eating habits. And one of the easiest places to start is with seafood. Within the seafood industry, Blue Circle Foods is a textbook example of sustainability. The company is regularly audited by trusted third-party organizations like Trace Register and IMO, to meet strict sustainability and traceability standards. Its fish are 100% traceable.
Furthermore, Blue Circle is completely non-GMO, with no antibiotics, growth hormones, or even synthetic pigments, and is certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council and Marine Stewardship Council.
Blue Circle has a range of offerings from pre-portioned fillets of salmon, cod, and tuna, as well as smoked salmon. I recently sampled their raw Pacific white shrimp in a trio of dishes: Shrimp Ceviche, Shrimp Scampi, and Morrocan Sweet & Spicy Shrimp. Each dish hinges entirely on the quality of the star ingredient, and it stole the show — plump, meaty, juicy, and bursting with flavor. And keep in mind, that was with a very amateur chef at the skillet.
And when you’re serving up a garlicy bowl of scampi, you better have a chilled bottle of Chardonnay at the ready. Here again, you can practice sustainability. The Edna Valley has long been renowned for its magnificent wines, but it has also been on the cutting edge of creating a sustainable wine culture, understanding that it’s the future of the industry.
For well over a decade, vineyards around San Luis Obispo County have been acquiring SIP certification, helping bring more sustainable practices to the wine industry. SIP Certified – Sustainability In Practice – is a checklist of more than 50 different requirements from water use to packaging, in which wineries must leave the smallest possible environmental footprint.
SIP has been a growing movemeint in SLO since 1994, and the winegrowers involved go to incredible lengths to attain certification, which requires them to meet and document specific practices. It’s summed up in the three “P’s”: Planet, People, and Prosperity.
Members “preserve the planet by paying attention to natural habitats, soil enriching, cover crops, filter water for reuse, and alternative energy.” Members support people, by promoting competitive wages, medical insurance, training, and education, as well as supporting the community with scholarships, education, and donations. The organization also contributes to prosperity, “creating business with ethical practices.”
Because of their monumental efforts, today the Edna Valley has a sustainable wine trail. The region is famous for its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and, these days, its Syrah, as well. Highlights along the trail include the first SIP-certified winery, Chamisal, which began planting grapevines in the valley all the way back in 1973. Also of note, is family-operated Wolff Vineyards, which uses underground PVC irrigation to save upwards of 30% of the water originally used. Talley Vineyards has a CSA that you can join to receive their farm produce. And then there’s Tolosa, which employs cats and owls as pest control, and which relies on solar power for about 90-95% of its electricity.
You’ve got your sustainable food, you’ve got your sustainable wine. Now, you just need some sustainable bowls and cups and you can enjoy in the great outdoors, now that we’ve all rediscovered the art of picnicking. Here’s where you have a wonderful opportunity to establish your eco-cred, by breaking out durable, lasting products rather than single-serve near-future trash. Like I said up top, status is a great motivator, and when I pull out the Stojo, it’s like arriving at a Greenpeace meeting on a bicycle.
Stojo is a collection of collapsible-and-stackable food and beverage storage containers — but with a sense of style, separating the brand within the industry. All their products are reusable, leak-proof, and dishwasher safe. The silicone is LFGB-certified — a stricter standard than the FDA — and stores food safely at any temperature.
Offerings include a 20-oz. Sports Bottle; a collapsible cup in 12-oz., 16-oz., and 24-oz. sizes; and a 36-oz. Bowl. The sports bottle comes with a tether for hands-free carrying. The cups can handle hot coffee and collapse down into a small disc. The bowl holds up to 4.5 cups and can be trusted with even the messiest spaghetti, which won’t spill or leak. And no single item is over $20, so there’s no excuse anymore for single-serve junk.
There’s no excuse anymore for not practicing a sustainable lifestyle. It’s an affordable luxury that simultaneously offers a high degree of status and a low carbon footprint.