What living sustainably means to me:
When I was young, sustainable living meant “don’t litter” and “don’t waste food”. I was
taught to consider whether I needed something before I was allowed to buy it. Living sustainably also meant wearing “perfectly good hand-me downs” that were not of the latest fashion. My mom always called my second-hand clothes “classics”. It meant finding joy and comfort in having the basics, sharing with my family and making friends with those who valued sharing (and had really cool stuff to share). This was all a way of living more out of economic necessity than environmental sustainability but it did form the foundation for my life approach as an adult.
Now living sustainably means fully understanding my calling as a human to be a
mindful, compassionate steward of the Earth. Acknowledging that I share it with all
beings who inhabit this home now and in the future. It means always being present to
how what I do can either harm or help others.
Living sustainably for me is a continuing education and habit-changing process. Two
years ago, I began a plant-based diet. I had a “wow” moment about not eating animals after reading this biblical verse in Genesis 1:29: “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.'” I had been leaning toward a plant-based diet and for me this verse put the period where there was a question mark.
1) What ways you have reduced waste in your home?
We use cloth napkins. We always use glass dishes even for large gatherings, instead of paper or plastic-wear. I use cloth rags for cleaning. For years we had a compost for fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and egg shells. But our dog, Sundance, had an eating disorder and became deathly ill from eating the compost so we snuffed the compost. It is now a curbside service I plan to sign up for. I use re-usable containers for water bottles. I mend clothes and I donate and buy from second-hand stores. I take books out from the library or read e-books rather than buy books.
I use plastic storage containers to minimize the use of plastic bags. I try to remember
to say “hold the straw” when I order a beverage at a restaurant. I buy loose tea instead
of tea bags. I am working at ways to eliminate use of plastics. I take my own bags to the store. I buy cans or glass rather than plastic whenever I have the option.
2) Have you tried to reduce your fossil-fuels use? If so, how? What challenges have you discovered in this effort?
The ideal me hops on a bike to go to church or the library, the real me just thinks about
it. I allow time and weather to get in the way.
3) Have you changed something about your consumption in an attempt to save money and discovered it was actually a benefit for the environment as well?
Taking out library books and signing up our library’s digital magazine service saves
money. Mending clothes and shopping second-hand are also good. I make some of my
own cleaning solutions in a re-usable spray container. I stopped buying booze (no more plastic handles for me). This has provided health benefits and that has had many
bonuses for me and my fellows on this planet.
Back to the compost days, my kiddos and I would go out after a rain and pick up
worms for our compost. We had a fun adventure; worms were rescued from sure
death and we did not have to buy worms to keep up the compost.
4) What are your favorite reusable items?
My colorful cloth napkins, my re-usable coffee cups and my Mr. Tea iced tea maker.
5) What is the biggest impact you see yourself making on the environment
through your lifestyle?
When I die for sure. I will have the most positive impact on the planet because a) I
won’t be taking up oxygen or using any resources and b) I have written into my will for
my remains to be disposed of in the most accessible, environmentally-friendly manner.
6) What about where you live makes it easier or harder to live a sustainable
or eco-friendly life? What would you change if you could?
It is not so much where I live that makes it hard to live sustainably but “when” I am
living that makes a sustainable lifestyle most challenging. Generally, time, convenience
and comfort are valued over natural resources. I was not born with a plastic spoon in
my mouth nor did I grow up with “packaged foods” but somehow time while balancing
the work/life pogo, more plastics, duplicate convenient items and my car became an
essential part of the formula. Now it’s time to regroup, rethink and relieve myself of
some eco-unfriendly habits.