What I have come to realize as a business owner, mom, wife and concerned Earth walker is that we as a people need to start caring more. And I know you will say to yourself “I care” and I know you do, but what I really mean is care deeply, care in a way that you can’t stand it, that you will stand up and turn off your computer (after you are done reading this of course) and go and care.
Care is an action word; it’s not a thought, and although thoughts have power and meaning, they also need action. So I would like you to scratch deeper than the feel good surface of self sustainable and eco friendly because when you care about yourself, you care about your family. When you care about your family, you about the earth and how you will live and leave your carbon footprint on it.
To me, self sustainable means self-reliant, self-motivated and self-responsible. It means changing my attitude and way of thinking and living, putting my real values in place and then acting on them, making decisions that will show my children and those closest to me how to be better and want more for themselves.
1. Stop wasting! Today’s home has more waste than ever before. Although putting your empty cans and bottles or newspapers on the curb feels good, that’s the least of our worries. What we really need to start doing is looking at ways we as a people and as a household can cut back and reuse. Consider things like composting; if you live in a city, many companies have come up with amazing convenient ways to compost with little to no space
2. Stop buying. Yep, I said it–all we hear is we need to stimulate the economy and keep buying, but what we really need is to stimulate ourselves to start being more self-sufficient and self-reliant. Most of us, if we take the time, could mend those pants with the rip in them, buy clothes for our kids and our families at a thrift store, ask a family member or friend or hand-me-downs, and even deal with that eye-sore of a couch for a few more years (or upholster it). A big part of self sustainable living is reusing, and this reusing really adds up.
3. Turn off the electronics. I know you are probably reading this on your computer, but self sustainable living means sustaining the self, and when you are glued to a computer, your phone, iPad or gaming device, how can you take action to improve your state of being? I am trying to be more aware of mindless, time wasting, self-sucking time spent on electronics. Take thirty minutes to one hour a day away from a computer or phone in order to create consciousness towards more effective ways to improve your well-being and way of life.
4. Buy products that last. We are a throw-away generation. Nothing lasts anymore. It wasn’t until I was out of high school that my parents’ T.V. finally kicked the can, and that was after my dad rewired it and had cut the bottom of the T.V. off (it was a old-school, wood-encased T.V.) to use as a base for the next purchase. Sometimes, something may cost a bit more, but you might get to use less. Many of those quality products are recyclable, biodegradable and compostable, so it will cost less annually to you and future generations. The thing I realize most about my own life and family living is that you must be willing to see that there is a change to be made, then put in effort, and, finally, commit and follow through.
5. Raise your own family. In today’s society it has become more and more apparent that we as a whole prefer to let someone else do the child rearing. Now, I know times are tough, but when does it end–all-day school at ages three, four, and five (which cost you money), daycare, morning care, after school care, day camp, sports, extra classes? Now, don’t go crazy, my kids take classes too, my four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter are in a pre-school a few hours a week, but the total hours combined in other people’s care does not outweigh the care they get from their Momma and Papa. The older I get, the more I realize that to live within your means is a term not just meant to help you stop spending, and realize you don’t need two new cars, an expensive house and lavish vacations, but to give your kids the gift of time and values that mean something to you.
To live self sustainable doesn’t mean you move to Alaska (although, it’s a thought!); it means you that you start asking yourself, “Is it really all necessary?” when you consider what you are doing, buying, and the way you are living. Because, only you can answer that question, so don’t confuse eco with ego, because one asks you to change and the other wants you to stay as you are.
When we cut back, we end up giving more.Photo Credit: Striatic, Kevin Collins