What if every morning we woke up and instead of trying to move a massive mountain we just picked up a light little pebble and moved that? And then imagined all those other people out there moving their own pebbles, it would start to feel like we are in fact moving a mountain – together.
People get overwhelmed when changing their lifestyle because the environmental issues can feel so big and unsolvable. It also doesn’t help that our harmful habits are so deeply engrained in our western lives – most societies are not set up for us to live lighter with ease. But the more we change the more the world will change with us.
Anyone can live more sustainably with a few adjustments, it doesn’t have to cost money but it does take time and energy. In a culture that values ‘busy’ it can feel like we don’t have either of those but for the vast majority of us there is still time to be found. Take 30 minutes out of your day that you’d normally spend on a mindless activity you’ll find space to live in-line with your values.
If you make changes out of a place of love; love for yourself and family, love for your children’s future, love for the planet, love for wildlife, love for the outdoors they will always feel lighter than if you make them out of fear.
A lot of this comes down to being more mindful, reassessing your needs versus wants, thinking outside yourself and realizing the greater impacts your actions and decisions have. We’ve created this manifesto as something you can come back to for reference and inspiration.
Own less, share more
This can be in terms of space (living smaller or sharing communal spaces) or physical items (tools, outdoor gear). If you took 20 people who work from home in your neighbourhood and all worked together in a co-working space, you’d be using one room worth of heating and electricity and need fewer plastic parted items like printers and scanners. Similarly, by taking advantage of programs like ShareShed or even Facebook community groups you can share tools and gear you don’t use every day so materials and energy don’t need to go into making thousands of them in your community alone.
Take the time
Free yourself from being a slave to convenience. So much of our culture revolves around doing things faster and easier but there is an unseen cost to our environment. Taking the time can be little things like making your lunch or sitting down somewhere to eat rather than idling in the drive-through or using plastic takeout containers. It can also mean bigger actions like leaving for work earlier so you can bike or walk there.
Use less plastic
Every single piece of plastic you’ve ever used will outlive you by hundreds of years, leaching toxics and impacting human health and the environment. That is a pretty big motivator to cut it out. Use glass, paper, bamboo, anything but plastic if you can help it – there are so many alternatives for everyday items now. I know there are still things we don’t always have control over like computer parts etc but you are in control of your shopping and home habits. If there is a soup you can buy in a plastic container or all of the ingredients without plastic – make it yourself. Remember that Reduce is the first of the three Rs.
Be a conscious consumer
Companies are becoming more and more transparent about their supply chain and practices because consumers are demanding it. It is easier than ever to vote with your dollar and support companies with fair-trade practices, ethical working conditions and green processes. Educate yourself on the supply chain of whatever it is you’re buying. Aside from the big companies you can buy local, shop at your Farmers’ Market and get clothes and home wares at second hand stores.
If you haven’t seen the documentary True Cost we highly recommend it, it is an eye opening look at the way fast fashion clothes are made and the amount of pollution caused by the industry.
Repair and repurpose
Fix your clothes, appliances, vehicles and gear before going out and buying new. If something is too costly to fix or beyond repair see if you can donate parts or repurpose. Learn how to mend your own clothes or support a local seamstress who can. Many eco-conscious outdoor retailers will also fix the clothes you bought from them like Patagonia and MEC.
Know your ingredients
From cosmetics to food we come into contact with ingredients that can cause us harm and that have already harmed the environment in their extraction on a daily basis. Palm oil is a great example, it is in most packaged food and personal care products and may not even be listed as such. The demand for palm oil has caused widespread destruction of tropical rainforest and habitat loss for endangered animals like the orangutan. You can check out WWF to learn more about palm oil and the David Suzuki Foundation to find out about the dirty dozen ingredients.
Follow your money
The recent Standing Rock movement made many people more aware of what their banks are investing in. It is your fees contributing, where you bank does have an impact on the world. As do your taxes, if your local or federal government is spending your tax dollars in a way you don’t agree with it is up to you to let them know.
Be an engaged citizen
Know who your local politician is, the process for voicing your concerns and attend local meetings. The government is meant to serve the country, it is your job to let them know what you value. I’m not saying it’s always effective but it definitely won’t be if you don’t do your part.
If we all take care of where we live the work is lighter and our communities are enriched. You can get involved with a local habitat restoration project, conservation efforts, clean-ups or start your own! You’d be surprised how little time it actually takes to make a difference and how rewarding it can be to get out there and do something positive with like-minded people.
Spend time outdoors
Not only is getting outside good for your mental and physical health but it will also serve as a reminder and motivator to live with less impact. Nature has a way of humbling us and making us realise our wants and desires are not the centre of the planet. Take the time to reconnect.
This is the most important one for committing to a sustainable lifestyle long-term. Realistically, you are not going to be able to follow all of these principles 100% of the time unless you already live in a community that supports sustainable living and are surrounded only by people with the same values. So let go when you can’t and do your best where and when you can. Holding on to guilt won’t serve you or the environment.
Living by our values can be easy but you have to set yourself up for success and sometimes that means starting small. If you’re new to this choose a couple of these that mean the most to you and grow from there. Before you know it all your pebbles will start to look more and more like that big ol’ mountain.
We hope you’ve found this helpful, let us know below if you have anything you’d add.