All over the news and around the world, we hear about sustainability and that our planet is not going to be able to sustain us as we continue to populate. So where do we begin? How do we start this conversation on sustainability and what does it mean? Let's sit down and chat a bit. Per the dictionary, it is defined as “the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed. The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance(1).”
So now that we have this definition, which by the way, there are many interpretations of sustainability; what does it mean to you? Take a few moments and ponder it. When I start thinking about sustainability, I have feelings of being overwhelmed and helpless. I say that because I am not an expert and I am not a scientist. Even with dealing with those feelings, what I do know about myself is that I have learned to care about the environment and believe wholeheartedly that I should try to educate myself on how to be a more sustainable human being.
If we are going to start somewhere let us first start with consumption. How much do we consume when it comes to food, fashion, home goods, electronics, etc.? For those that live in first world countries, we have the ability to travel to all variety of stores or even better yet, buy online and receive goods either that same day or the next. Do you over consume? I know that I have- many times. Has anybody been up late at night looking through social media and you see that gadget that you have never seen before and now you suddenly need it? I have regretfully purchased many kitchen and electronic gadgets that my husband finally said to me that I needed to Cut It Out (Full House, Dave Coulier reference).
A big revelation of my over consumption that came to me is when my husband and I sold our home in Los Angeles and took a job in Australia. Moving down the street or even to another state is a lot of work but moving to another country and crossing an ocean has its own overwhelming complexities. We had to downsize immensely to make this move happen. Thank God for Marie Kondo. I used the “spark joy” method to get through all of our belongings.
We had four vehicles for two people, four! We had two cars, a classic truck, and a motorcycle. We shipped the truck to my dad and sold the rest of the vehicles. To my dismay, my husband not only had us host one yard sale but two. My yard sales, by the way, were little staged rooms so it was quite a task. We pushed through and hosted the yard sales and used Facebook market to sell our items. The left over items were picked up by a local charity and or given to neighbors. When everything was said and done what was left were a few boxes, two totes, four suitcases, and a couple of backpacks. We ended up getting rid of almost 80% of our possessions. My life was now in these few items and that’s when it hit me.
I realized that I did not need as much as what I had previously thought. I did not need 15 jackets, 3 sets of dishware, multiple kitchen gadgets (even the ones that I never figured out how to use), 100 pairs of shoes, 20 pairs of sunglasses, etc. Once I looked around my empty house, I actually felt free. It was a type of freedom that I have never experienced. Even though I know that I am a savvy shopper when it comes to saving money on my purchases, I know that I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on frankly stating… Stuff. That stuff didn’t make me a better, smarter person. It just allowed me to have the very fleeting high of owning items but that high left within moments. That money that I spent on that useless stuff should honestly be sitting in my savings account.
This sustainability journey is not to condemn anyone or to make sustainability seem unattainable. This blog is to have an open discussion on how you and I can make a difference in the sustainability war that our planet faces. We are going to make mistakes and already have but it is how we continue to strive to do better. My definition of sustainability is not complete but I know that every little step that we can do does make a difference. Let’s research this together and have open conversations to learn more on this topic. The future of our planet depends on us.
(1) Dictionary.com, (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/sustainability).
This is the first picture that my husband took of me after moving to Australia. Looking at this picture reminds me that it was worth the sacrifice to part with my belongings to get to live and work in this beautiful place.