When I hear the word sustainability, I get two very distinctive mental pictures…
The first is a warm, sunny Saturday morning, where as the dew on the lush grass begins to disappear, a thin, attractive woman rides by on her bicycle, in linen shorts with a big floppy hat and a basket full of fresh greens, fruits, and baked bread. She’s spent all morning at the local Farmer’s Market, listening to the bees buzz about, and is now headed home to make her own deodorant, do some yoga, and not shave her legs. She’s single, living in an all white apartment with macrame wall hangings, makes her own trendy clothes, and never wears shoes. She also goes to “save the ocean” rallies, and has 18K followers on instagram.
I both detest this woman, and somehow want to be her at the same time…
The second is in a time before I was born, with a messy kitchen island, undoubtedly made of old barn wood, sprinkled with flour and veggie scraps thrown about as aged, wrinkled hands tirelessly kneed a heap of dough. The woman whose hands have been working stops as she hears a timer go off, and dusts her grey apron hard in an effort to rid the excess flour. She wipes her brow and turns around to tend to the various jars of homemade jams and jellies being canned by the stove, just as a large gang of children run past, laughing, throwing her slightly off her balance. She yells at them to go play in the garden, and pull up some carrots while they’re at it, then she gets back to work amongst the sweet smells and creaking floorboards.
I’m both intrigued by and also pity this woman…
What do you think of (or who do you think of) when you hear the word sustainability?
The fact that I picture a certain type of person leads me to believe the following:
- Being sustainable is a trendy way that modern, new-ager hippies can have a project.
- Being sustainable is an outdated practice that comes from financial hardships of days past.
- I’ve been conditioned by society to place certain expectations on a person who considers themselves sustainable and what her life must look like.
Whoop, there it is.
When I start to deconstruct the true ideals behind sustainability, and what it would mean for my perfectly average family, here is what I’m left with:
- Being sustainable is intentionally choosing environmental responsibility.
- Being sustainable is easier on the wallet and repels hyper-consumerism.
- Being sustainable is about gaining skillsets that allow you to depend on yourself.
Who you want to be can be daunting. A long process that can heavily depend on your circumstances, your day dreams, and other people’s expectations.
Why you want to take an action is where the real work begins, in minuscule, modest steps and choices; in decisions that are reflective of your reality and your true values. Start within your means and circumstances. The worst thing any of us can do is nothing.
Sustainability, eco-friendliness, going green, self-sufficient; whatever you want to call it, let’s strive to focus on the why and not the who.
**My next post will be about the absolute FIRST tiny baby step (that doesn’t cost a thing) anyone can take towards waste-reduction! Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss it 🙂