The APLS blog, even now just a few months old, has been hosting a series of monthly carnivals. It's a great way to learn about what others are doing around issues of sustainability. The most recent APLS Carnival topic (October) asked two questions:
- How do you educate yourself about sustainable living?
- How do you share that knowledge with others?
Having missed last month's carnival (oops), I wanted to be sure to toss in my two cents...
Ten years ago, I knew nothing about living sustainably. Seriously, I just wanted to pay my bills with as few hours at work as possible, while at the same time enjoying the things that mattered most to me. It was all very simple. A little prioritizing, and I was doing just fine. But as I've said before, those first years of simplifying my life brought with it awareness. Awareness of how I consumed; how my consumption affected the environment and my health; and how those choices could make a statement about who I am and what I believe about the world around me.
So (over the course of the last ten years) I read, and I read and then I read some more - books, blogs, news articles, whatever I could get my hands on. I let it sink in, little by little. But of course educating yourself - well that's the easy part. Somewhere along the way, as I learned more about what it meant to live sustainably, I hit a plateau. Because some changes, as you know, are REALLY hard to make. And herein, I believe, lies the key to truly living a sustainable life...
All these things we identify with sustainability - making our own meals from scratch; growing our own veggie gardens, joining a CSA, or frequenting a local farmers market; buying locally; baking bread; composting; recycling; buying used, borrowing items, or going without to reduce consumption; biking and walking instead of hopping in the car for a quick trip; or all the other things we could name if we took the time. They all require us to make a leap of faith. Faith in ourselves and faith in our communities. Faith that we are no different than the generations before us for whom sustainability was the ONLY way of life.
The first few changes are hard, but after a few "I don't think I can do this" followed by a few "Gee, that wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be," it gets easier. The next thing you know, there's nothing you can't try. Sure. You won't end up doing it all, but you'll soon learn that you can do anything. Anything is possible if you're not afraid to try.
And as far as sharing what you've learned with others? How better than to live the life? People will notice. Share that homemade jam, the fresh baked bread. Carry your cloth bag to the grocery store. Some will stop and ask while others notice whether you realize it or not. One day, a neighbor stopped me as I was walking. He said that after watching me walk day after day back and forth to the grocery, to the post office and around the neighborhood, I had become an inspiration to he and his wife who decided that they too could get out and walk. And they did. How many similar stories are out there that I don't know about? And here I've done nothing more than tried to live a more sustainable life.
As we learn to live more sustainably, as we become more fearless in our efforts to try the things we once thought impossible, as we become the change we want so desperately to see in the rest of the world, change will happen. It's beautiful, it's inevitable, but most of all, it's infectious. So be sure to pass it on.
To check out the full blog carnival, visit this month's host, Farmers Daughter on October 15.