Living a More Sustainable Life by Sharon Lynn Lloyd (published - Gather.com 4/18/2007)
I sincerely try to live lightly on our beautiful planet now. About a year ago the urgency of living sustainability became blatantly apparent. This is when I began to conscientiously educate myself about the possible effects of climate change, the peaking of cheap oil in our society, and, so, the inevitable economic restructuring that lies ahead. I studied articles on the effects of over population, biotechnology (for example, the dangers of the genetically modified food), and how the toxins we generate are disrupting the ecological systems world wide. I did research on various topics like renewable natural resources and am aware of the immense amount non renewable resources the people in this country presently consume. After all this research I realized that sustainability is a complex subject! And, I admit, I felt overwhelmed. At first I wondered how I could contribute to a more sustainable world which I share with so many. What changes could I make that would make some difference?
I began at home. I made a check-off list which I divided into categories. For example, I created a garden category and listed that I would plant more fruit trees, create a worm composter, and install a grey water system to recycle the usable water from bathing and washing. In my transportation category I promised myself to use public transportation more, ride my bicycle and walk whenever possible in order to help reduce my carbon output. And now I telecommunicate for work from my home, which has many benefits. Another plan is to eliminate toxins from our home environment. Instead of using synthetic/chemically based cleaners I have switched to equally effective cleaning agents like baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, borax, and herbs. Then I replaced our carpeting with hardwood and linoleum flooring. Our energy consumption was reduced, especially in the winter, by insulating the walls, windows, ceilings, and doors as much as was possible. My hope is to install a solar system soon for our electrical needs as we move towards sustainability and self sufficiency. Downsizing is also a goal on my list. Garage sales and donations to local groups and charities will help me to reduce the collection of stuff we have by half to only keep what is truly needed. Reduce, reuse, recycle encompasses many habit and value changes honestly needed. I plan to be far less consumer orientated. Becoming a vegetarian is a change that I have given high priority. I want to move to a lower position on the food chain and, thus, not be such an energy drain on the environment - one of many benefits of being a vegetarian. Of course my list contains much more that just this. Even small changes - like making every attempt to not buy plastic or Styrofoam products to exchanging incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs - are important, especially if we all earnestly employ them.
Next I became more active in my community. I joined a local sustainability group. Together, as a community of concerned citizens, we educate and support each other and our town members with information about gardening, water conservation, solar technology, alternative transportation, composting techniques, green cleaning and recycling ideas. Once a month we present an educational film on climate change, relocalization, peak oil and many other relevant subjects. Soon we will have a local farmers market, which will help support and build our local community and economy. I believe that being part of a community of neighbors is necessary. Working together we can hope to make the needed adjustments and changes to insure a more sustainable community.
Wouldnt it be great if our present leaders believed in the seventh generation philosophy of the Native American Iroquois Confederacy which mandated their chiefs to always consider the effects of their actions on their descendants seven generations into the future? Even so, I sincerely hope that we can each be so wise and just so as to earnestly make responsible choices towards a more balanced and sustainable life. And as a society work together to do whatever it takes to help preserve the natural ecosystems and biodiversity of our natural world - beginning now. By living more harmoniously with the ways of Nature we can better insure that there will be future generations of people who can be grateful for this wonderful planet upon which we live.