Are you quote, unquote, sustainable? Today we are hearing the word sustainable thrown around all over the place – it’s the new ‘big thing.’ Most of us are sold just on the word itself; it is loosely used and has a high sense of value. We put sustainability in the mix, and it becomes that. But what is that? How do we measure what is sustainable, buying sustainably, and living life under sustainability guidelines?
What is sustainable living? How do you even define it?
Although it is a very broad term and somewhat difficult to encompass, my definition would go something like this: ‘Sustainability is a concept that incorporates the planets’ health as a way of life.’ Whether it be in energy, technology, agriculture, construction, fashion, or consumption, it can be used to describe these industries having a lower negative impact on the world, and with hopes, a positive one.
When it comes to personal matters, it is about how we care for ourselves, our spaces, and our choices as consumers.
☀︎ Do we consider the effects that chemical products have, not only on/within our bodies but that on the environment?
☀︎ Do we lather our homes in unnatural products, which ultimately intoxicate us and have nowhere else to go except be absorbed into the atmosphere?
☀︎ Do we buy products for the sake of buying, having more than necessary, made with materials that strip the earth and contaminate it thereafter?
There is a lot to think about when it comes to being sustainable. It is not about doing it all at once, it is doing what you can and striving to keep learning and developing.
Oftentimes, our little friend, ego, can get in the way and make us believe that we are better than others for doing more things sustainably or being more sustainable; it is not about that either. I notice frustration when I see the lack of care and consideration for mother earth, but I remind myself that it is not my place to judge. There is no comparison because it’s a process - something that we grow into. It is born within and comes from selfless reasons for the betterment of the planet (although it does benefit the individual as well).
Why is living sustainably important?
Well, the possible answers to this are endless. As consumerist beings, it seems like we are destroying the planet without thoughts of the future generations, taking from the earth because she provides all that we need. But what do we provide? We take and deplete and often do not restore. We should take only what is necessary, then no more. By becoming aware of our impact and considering the wellbeing of the earth, we are not only consciously preserving it for future human beings, but for that of our precious wildlife, who are disappearing at alarming rates.
What are the common first steps for leading a sustainable life?
In my opinion, it starts with self-love. Suppose you care about what you put on and within your own body, taking into account what is best for your internal environment. In that case, it begins to spill over into the external environment since they are so intricately intertwined.
Maybe you begin by switching the type of toothpaste you use or start buying natural soaps rather than those ladened with chemicals. You could shop at a thrift store or purchase less. Still, higher quality organic wears – like investing in a pair of bamboo sunglasses instead of buying an endless number of cheap, plastic sunglasses that you always break or lose (oops, shameless plug).
Zen Masters. Bridal Falls, BC, Canada.
Perhaps you purchase your food from a local farmers market, support organic farmers, or even start growing your produce at home. There are plenty of options to incorporate but starting with one is all it takes to get into the flow.
One of the things that I would love to catch on quickly is the movement from using the ‘typical’ sunscreen to a natural alternative. When you think about how many people worldwide put on toxic sunscreen and then enter the ocean, it sadly makes sense that we see our coral reefs disappearing at an alarming rate. As the sunscreen washes off, it contributes to a change in the pH of the water, which is one reason for the bleaching of the corals.
Dead Coral. Bahía de Huatulco, México.
What difference can just one person make?
Regardless of the fact that it seems insignificant, what you do, matters. That well-known quote goes, ‘What difference can I make, said 7 billion people.’ And, of course, if everyone tends to think that way, we will never change. We will continue on the same trajectory and what we will continue to see is the further destruction of the planet. It takes one - one thought, one intention, one person who tries to do things differently, ultimately setting the example for others to follow on the path to a greener world.
As we are an ever-evolving planet and species, this shift to sustainable living is the next, naturally occurring step in our transformation as a whole. It is happening because it needs to. We are being called to take action, look at our decisions, and break free from the socially accepted abuse and over-use of chemicals and other synthetic manufactured goods.
We are being asked to question the ‘norm’ and learn about new ways to impact positively. Our existence depends on Pachamama, just as hers depends on us. We have the power of our choice to make ourselves and the earth the healthiest possible place to live. We are connected; we are one. Let’s care for one another.
What are some other examples of sustainable living?
Having a minimalist mindset has been pivotal in the transition to a greener way of life. I have been practicing low-impact living for as long as I can remember and was quite surprised just how many little alterations made a huge difference in my health; if it is doing wonders for me, I can only imagine the positive implications this has on the environment.
Experience the many benefits from making these small and simple changes in your daily life.
Here are some ideas...
☀︎ Buy natural products that decompose, like bamboo toothbrushes, soaps made from organic oils, and using a menstrual cup or cloth pads instead of sanitary napkins.
☀︎ Plant a fruit tree in your garden to save money on fresh produce while reducing the carbon footprint by not buying food transported long distances.
☀︎ Buy organic when you can - by eating food that is higher in nutrients, without the toxins, your consumption requirements are less.
☀︎ Get into the kitchen and cook up a storm. There is something about making your food that makes it all the better. It is also nice to know what is actually going into your body.
☀︎ Go for walks instead of driving (or take public transport) whenever possible.
☀︎ Take cold showers. This benefits you immensely, from improved immune system function to reduced stress levels. To many it does not sound appealing, but you get used to it after a while.
☀︎ Connect with nature. Appreciate the balance and harmony you feel when you are one with the earth. This also helps to stimulate your desire to care for it more.
☀︎ Reuse glass jars and beeswax wrappers to store food in the fridge.
☀︎ Instead of plastic bottles, use reusable water bottles.
☀︎ Recycle all household items including paper, cardboard, plastics, and glass.
☀︎ Unplug electrical chargers when not in use, and turn off devices while sleeping to avoid unnecessary energy consumption.
☀︎ Purchasing energy-efficient appliances, like washing machines and dishwashers, will lower your carbon footprint by wasting less electricity.
☀︎ Be creative. We love Pinterest for its DIY sustainable ideas, and tutorials. You can also find us there, @Bambuddha_
By doing such things, you will reduce the toxins in your body and home, as well as save money.
It’s a win-win-win really.
We all need to find and maintain our place in this world. It is only through understanding ourselves that we can better understand how to live respectfully in our bodily and planetary home. We can learn how to honour the earth in all her glory. If we manage to do so, there will be no lack because mother nature provides all – clean air, clean water, and a clean food supply. What more could we possibly need?
Our existence is a gift; let’s make it a beautiful one.