Why me using the term eco-friendly is turning me into a liar

I asked a very dear friend of mine to look up my website and navigate through it with honest feedback. I say honest in that she has known me since I was eleven and has been the only person that has given me advice, solicited or not, which may or may not be what I want to hear. Given that I spent a lot of time as a child with self-doubt, my friend has been that one person that has seen me go through some life experiences which required me to learn assertiveness, not only with my dealings with people but with my life decisions. So, in a roundabout way, I value her opinion.

I was grateful to know that she thought the layout and presentation of the site were adequate enough and it was easily able to be navigated through. Hearing that is heaven to my ears seeing as I want my customers, present and future, to have an on-line shopping experience that is convenient, easily accessible and provides good choice. I live most of my time overseas in developing countries where access to the internet is quite limited and I have struggled with the realisation that I have not been able to be as proactive in putting time and effort into my website as I should do. But…my friend says…

But…that dreaded three letter word. And here it goes...The reason my friend loves me so much is because I am genuine. I have a big heart and am very honest in any dealings I have in life (at least I hope so). What my friend felt was that I put too much effort in trying to capture people with terms like ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘environmentally-conscious’. There are a lot of businesses nowadays placing a lot of weight on such descriptions in a bid to make their customers feel good about their purchases without truly having to face the environmental footprint that they (as also all of us) place on our earth.

Including me…including me! And not just through my business. Through everything I do every day without really thinking about what my actions say about me. I am a huge advocate about creating awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic in our environment, yet I don’t think about how subjective the words eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious are. Friendly in regards to what? Conscious in regards to who? I am helping others lessen their use of single-use plastic bags and providing them with an alternative that is both functional and unique. Okay…and? How do people know this, truthfully?

The products are 'upcycled' in that they are made from 'recycled' plastic waste. And if it got to a stage where there was no more plastic waste to use to make these products and it ultimately puts me out of business, then I have reached my ultimate goal. A plastic free world – oh, the peak of happiness Mother Nature would sit at! So, why am I not placing more emphasis on these terms rather than succumbing to the marketing terminology that will put me in a better position? It’s not me and it's a lie and that’s the internal struggle I have.

I am genuine, I am honest and I am transparent with what I do. Majority of the proceeds go back to my foundation - https://travellingbutterfly.com.au/blogs/news/do-you-know-where-the-proceeds-of-your-purchases-from-travelling-butterfly-go-to. I choose to live remotely in Ghana and without the luxuries that my life in Australia has. I choose to integrate into the culture and be present among the local community to listen and understand their needs as told by them rather than my opinion on what I think would or should work. I choose to give up my time with family and friends to be with people less fortunate to empower them but can freely admit that they teach me more than I could ever do in return.

Because I am genuine, I am honest and I am transparent, right? So, for all the choices I make in trying to promote my business and products as a great alternative which are eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious, I choose, now, to rework my website and make my message be sincere, relatable and informative. My friend is insightful, but she also knows me. I try to follow the crowd and by doing so, lose my authentic self in the process. Not anymore. My customers do not know me, but they will from now on as I strengthen my promise to myself to be true and humble. You will now see me link my products with words like recycled and upcycled and unique. 

So, in final, I may not be the best environmentally sustainable business that exists, but I choose to offer items and support organisations that are doing their best to consider the environmental footprint and create awareness and help others in doing so. I choose to provide unique products and use the proceeds to reinvest into providing education to the communities I am fortunate enough to live with; to help others understand the detrimental effects that plastic waste has on the environment and to demonstrate through action, how little changes can make huge differences that they can be proud of.