Saturday, 5 September 2009

Live the Lifestyle You Want to Live, and Live it Sustainably

by Melinda Briana Epler,
One Green Generation

Last month I wrote about finding your own version of sustainability. Everyone is different, and for that reason, there is no ONE way to live sustainably. From the comments, I gathered that some readers felt I was somehow letting everyone off the hook, that we didn't all need to live sustainably but we just had to live happily. However, that is far from what I meant. I believe we can, each of us, live the lives and lifestyles that we want to live - and live them sustainably.

In other words, if I am most comfortable in a city, I don't need to move back to the land to live sustainably. If you hate the chaos of the city, you can find a lifestyle in the country that is sustainable. If I want to fit into society - and not be thought of as someone outside of society - I can find a way to do that sustainably.

If I don't have time to knit or sew, I don't necessarily have to make time to do those things - as long as I buy clothing and household items that are sustainably made (and only when I truly need them). If I don't like gardening, or if I'm not good at it, I don't have to live in the country and tend a huge garden. Instead, I can live in the city and purchase local, organic foods at the farmer's market or through a CSA. Often this makes food and clothing more sustainable, because fewer resources are used when things are made and/or grown in bulk. This is not true across the board, of course - no matter what you do, you have to do it conscientiously in order to remain sustainable. But you don't have to do everything yourself in order to live sustainably.

Why don't I do everything myself? I grow some food in a community garden and work with my mother on a second urban garden, but I no longer have a 2,000 foot garden in the country. I don't knit or sew, and I don't always make my own food at home. You can do all of those things and live sustainably and happily. But you don't have to. And in order to do all of the work I do to make the world a better place, I cannot manage a large garden, sew, knit, cook all of my own meals, preserve foods, make my own soaps, and many other things.

I live a professional lifestyle, and at the same time I consume 90% less energy than the average American. I live a pretty darn sustainable lifestyle.

It is a choice. And I have chosen to do as much as I can at home, and to utilize my surrounding community to help me do the rest to live sustainably. And I do that in order to have a job that helps me reach a lot of people and create world change. Ultimately, I have a larger impact on the world.

I can do things in the city that I could not do in the country, and I have access to people and resources I did not have access to in the country. For these reasons, I can do more world changing things here.

Plus I have a small, energy efficient home here - built with green materials, and sharing energy and resources with other people in my building. I can walk or take public transportation nearly everywhere I need to go. I can find used designer clothing and nice furniture in local thrift and antique stores, I can walk across the street to the farmer's market and across another street to a green grocery store. For these reasons and many more, I am able to live the lifestyle that I enjoy living, and make the changes I want to make in the world - all while living sustainably.

So I encourage you to live the lifestyle you want to live and make it sustainable. Only you are you, so don't let others sway you into living a lifestyle you don't enjoy. Life your life, and make it sustainable.