Live a Sustainable Lifestyle

You Don’t Have To Move to an Ecovillage to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle

by Ryan Grist

Sustainable living is about as broad of a concept as any. With topics ranging from locally based food production and conserving energy use, to Ecovillages and restoring community relationships, it can be difficult to imagine how you can incorporate sustainability into your own lifestyle. However, the path to a sustainable lifestyle is closer to you than you may think: it simply requires a slight change in mindset. At the heart of sustainable living, it is not so much what you do as an individual to live a more sustainable lifestyle, although that matters deeply, but instead it is more about the relationships you develop and the community you form.

It’s easy to feel that your ways of living are far from sustainable and that change would be much too difficult.  You may be thinking, “my house is already too big and energy inefficient” or, “I know nothing about composting” or, “I don’t have the time or energy to patronize local farmers.” You may feel that the changes you make will only have a minor impact on the environment and to really make a difference in your living habits you would need to move to an area full of dedicated sustainability advocates. But Ecovillages and Cohousing units may not be the solution for everyone, and they aren’t always the best option for your circumstances. Surely, every new building we construct should consist of components for an eco-design, but everyone cannot simply abandon their homes and start over. The reality is, we need to work with our local resources, utilize the relationships we’ve already formed, and build a community with a vision for a sustainable future.

Relax is the theme

Rather than continuing the 21st century trend of busy, disconnected lifestyles, let us envision a new future of organized neighborhood action promoting sustainable living by connecting community members and collaborating on projects.

There is a major lack of communication amongst community members these days. Since the later half of the 20th century, a major shift in focus from community ties to individualized consumerism has occurred. Today, we no longer feel comfortable running over to the neighbors to borrow a cup of sugar in exchange for a fresh baked loaf of zucchini bread. And we need to begin asking questions about consumption and resourcefulness: Does every household need their own lawnmower, or could we pitch in together and share common household items that are used infrequently? If your neighbor is an adamant gardener, maybe they could expand their garden into your yard in exchange for garden help and fresh vegetables. Or form a group and get a CSA delivery in your neighborhood. Chances are you’re not the only person in your neighborhood interested in some aspect of sustainable living. If every community across the country were to form a neighborhood group and collaborate ideas on how to live more sustainably, imagine what a real difference we could make.

All it will take is a shift in mentality and a desire to work with others. We need to move beyond this era of individualism and focus our attention on creating dynamic communities full of energy and a desire to work towards a common goal: a lifestyle that will sustain itself far into the future.

Ryan Grist is a first year student at Fairhaven College of Western Washington University. He is currently an intern serving and learning at Matheson Farms  Sustainable Living Education Center.

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