I’ve been educated being respectful for the planet. Without thinking about it a lot, I took good daily habits to preserve our lovely planet. And year after year, I started really think about it and I slowly became kind of extreme about it. Vegan and really careful about global warming, my goal was to reach the zero waste way of life. And then, I landed in Kuwait…
Good habits since the childhood
Without being really concerned, my parents always respected the planet. We sort out waste, we dont let the water open when we brush our teeth or under the shower. We turn off the lights. It’s small habits we have daily. My mom always has a reusable bag with her, just in case of.
My brother and I were raised knowing about respect in general. So, apparently, it includes respect of the planet and the environment. We don’t waste found, we don’t throw papers on the floor. We don’t buy new clothes every week and we think about what we really need. Maybe it was for economical reasons, but at the end, we respect the planet we live in.
But, when I was younger, I was a huge consumer. I started working young and I literally burnt my salaries in fast-fashion brands. Support local shops ? Nope, why ? Quality before quantity ? What ? Why ? I was happier with more. I started a huge collection of marinières and I could talk about my clothes as if it was my kids. Every clothe has its story.
A huge awareness
And in November 2012, I decided to travel for five months in Asia. I have my backpack and I realized that I have to carry if during my whole trip. My shoulders and my back are definitely not strong enough to carry more than 10 kilos. Do you know how fast you reach 12 kilos ? Believe, you will have time to put nothing and it will weight 12 kilos.
I took my flight with two legging, five t-shirt, one short, seven underwear and seven socks. My straightener for my hair stays at home with all my make up. The beginning was hard. And day after day, week after week, I realized that I didn’t need that much. Actually, I realized that I don’t need anything.
When I came back to France, it was a huge slap in my face. I am back in front of my huge dressing-room, my sixty shoes, my forty hats and scarves. Honestly, it was really hard to go back in this consumer life. So I decided to do the way back.
An ascetic life
At this point, I start thinking about my impact on the environment. I thought about alternatives to do more and more than what I was doing. I started to leave my car to take the public transportation, to buy less than I used to do and to think twice before buying something useless.
Step by step, changes went into what I used to eat. I stopped eating animals, I started eating organic and local food. I started to boycott some brands. And then, it’s a circle. I met vegan people, some activists, in the zero waste movement. Step by step I reduce everything.
At the end of the journey, I became a vegan who was boycotting fast-everything. Quality basics better than temporary trend was literaly my way of life. Beauty products choose wisely : cruelty free, natural and organic.
When I arrived in Kuwait, I was vegan, anticapitalist. I used to eat local and according to the season. I only bought clothes I needed, never more. I was with the same sneakers and I felt guilty every time I decided to buy something I didn’t need.
Starting to do less
Kuwait is build on a American model. Fast-food, fast-fashion everything is fast. Kuwait is also a desert : nothing comes from Kuwait. And when it’s organic, it’s really expensive. Restaurants for a vegan are a disaster.
At the beginning, it was OK. I was strong enough to fight and talk about it. We have to protect our planet, we have to do more and more and more. For me it was never enough.
I started leaving it one day I didn’t have shampoo. To buy my organic-natural-cruelty-free shampoo, I had to drive twenty-five minutes to go and twenty-five minutes to come back. This day, I decided to buy something in the Supermarket.
And then, it’s in a restaurant. Lebanese food, I am tired of hummus, falafel et fattoush. I ordered something with cheese. Step by step, I started again eating products from animals when I was in restaurants. I remember, I felt so guilty and so bad. I felt I was a traitor, as if I was betraying all my values and what I was used to fight against. I felt I was giving up so easily, as if I was the biggest coward ever.
Step by step, I started to stop being that strict with myself about all of it. Daily life is kind of hard because every step you do is a contradiction. I don’t know what is worst : to drive almost one hour to get my natural shampoo or the shampoo full of chemicals ?
I turn off the water when I am brushing my teeth and I also turn off the lights every time I left a room. But I can’t sort out my waste because here nothing exist for this. I throw my waste in the trash but I am always full of plastic bags when I do my groceries. I eat organics eggs but the veggies I have in my kitchen didn’t grow in Kuwait.
There is nothing in my kitchen, except eggs and cucumbers, that didn’t take the plane to come to Kuwait. And me, I take the plane at least four times a year, just to see my family. With my car, I do 10 000km in ten months and I don’t count all the kilometers I do when I am a passenger. And there is no long way, it’s only daily drives. If I have to travel, I have to take the plane.
Every day, I think about what I do and the impact it has on the environment. I was the good student when I was in France, now in Kuwait, I feel I am the worst one.
It’s hard to always think about it when you are alone.
In France, I had support. Even if my surroundings didn’t really understand, it was kind of easy to eat local and without anything from animals. I had to walk ten minutes to find whatever I needed. In my daily life, it was easy to run away from the consumerism life because I had choices.
In Kuwait, I never met someone convinced as much as I was. Nobody was OK with my fights as much as I was. I met people concerned by this question but for me, they were not enough.
My first weeks here… I spent it in a loneliness that I can’t explain. I had nobody to talk about my convictions with. No-bo-dy. Everything was hard : from my groceries to my social life. And nobody to talk about it with. Nobody to complain about it with. I was alone and every time I had to go outside, I realized I was lonely also.
How can I buy local food in a shop where nothing grows ? And, can you imagine how much gallons of water you need to make cucumber grows in the desert ? Every step in my daily life is a question. With all the water we need to gardening, is it better to eat local or exported food ?
I am trying my best with what I have
I learned, every day, to be nice with myself about it. From where I am, I can’t live without a car. I can’t sort out my waste. I can’t drink water tap. Every time I am outside, it’s a call to buy and it’s hard to resist.
I felt guilty every day. Guilty of giving up and guilty of betraying my convictions. Guilty of not trying to go as far as I used to go.
And one day I realized that… to throw your waste in a garbage is a huge step here in Kuwait. To no throw my waste by my windows when I was driving is already a big thing.
Since that day, I explain to my kids that they have to turn off the water when they wash their hands. Wastes go on the trash, not on the floor. Yep, you can use again a paper to draw, you just have to use the other side.
I don’t have all the choices I had when I was in France. Back in France, I was lucky : I had a lot of dispositions to take care of this planet. I was lucky because I had such a good education about it. I realized that the minimum in France is the maximum for some countries.
So, for people in France, I am an ecologic disaster. But in Kuwait I am kind of a model. So, instead of feeling guilty with what I don’t do, I started to teach people to do as little as I do !