Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hello World, I live sustainably!

Kellie, from Greenhab is hosting this month's APLS carnival, and she asks this:

So, I'm wondering when, where, how, and how much you proselytize living green? When do you just let it go? When is it not worth it to start something? Or do you always speak up? How loud? Are you a tell-it-like-it-is person? Or do you try to take a gentle approach? And, although I use "proselytize" in the loosest way, does living a sustainable lifestyle feel almost like a religion to you?

I find that I run the gamut from silent to all points bulletins regarding my environmentalism. It depends on the situation, the people I'm with, the issue at hand and the mood I'm in. Sometimes I have the energy to get into a deep discussion, and think it would be profitable; at other times I just mind my own business and wish to myself that things were different.

The vast majority of the time I am quietly announcing my viewpoint by doing little things such as carrying reusable bags, using my reusable water bottle or sticking to a vegetarian diet. I don't usually think of these things as announcing anything, until someone else comments. As I was exiting the farm store a few weeks a go a couple walked past me in the parking lot, saw my bags, and said to each other "oh yea! we have bags in the car, let's go get them." I was secretly thrilled that they were inspired by my action to their own action, of course it was small, but it was still exciting. A similar thing happened when someone at a conference was explaining the excessive waste of plastic water bottles and used me (with my metal bottle) as an example. He was the one making the bigger impact, by actually speaking out, but I was proud to provide an easy reference point.

Sometimes the quiet announcements lead to conversations and education opportunities. I bring a vegetarian lunch to school each day, and one day another teacher asked why I had decided to become vegetarian. I took the opportunity to discuss the sustainability issues with meat production. Then, just a few weeks later she informed me that she'd decided to become a vegetarian, and to drag her whole family along with her. She asked a few more questions and I was able to be a further resource for how to transition meat out of her diet. And all I did was eat lunch in the presence of others.

People I know better (students and friends) are exposed to a slightly louder rumble of my eco-friendly behaviors. My classroom has paper and bottle recycling bins, and I vocally correct any student who uses the wrong bin. I usually don't have to do all the educating though, peers are great enforcers and yell at kids for "killing the trees!" if they ignore my reminders.

For those friends who pass the cut and make it into my apartment, things are much more obvious and I am more vocal. If you ask to use the bathroom you get told how to flush the toilet with grey water (but you have to ask to find out what the little pieces of cloth by the toilet are for). It's obvious that everything is on power strips, and that lighting is limited to just the area we are occupying. I don't hesitate to remind people to turn off the kitchen light as they leave the room or squirm at the idea of turning on the TV if we're otherwise occupied.

Some things, though, are just so exciting I have to shout it to the world. Getting my new (to me) keyboard was like that. I went on craigslist and found an amazing deal for a 72 key (that's huge in the keyboard world) instrument with amazing sound in excellent condition. It was so wonderful and I was so thrilled with this huge success of buying used that Twitter, my parents and my friends heard all about it. I still tell everyone who walks into the room how cheap I got it and how great the reviews are and just ramble on and on about it forever! Buying less is best, but buying used and getting something that you really love, just amazing.

So, while my blog banner says I "live life lightly and announcing it brightly" there are clearly many shades of brightness that occur on a day to day basis. And I think this is good; for me, and for those who have to spend time with me.