As I try to strive towards the more sustainable lifestyle over the past few years, I learn to pick my battles. I have become more educated in the externalities and negative ecological impacts involved in our everyday actions and choices. There are those times when I have to consciously choose whether to follow the path of convenience or that of more time & effort. The American society and what is expected of us leads to adopt a life of fast pace. It is funny how it is a life of doing more but only those actions that may lead us to assumingly more money. However it also leads us to a life of doing less, the actions that may be better for our actual well-being. Fewer actions that require our bodies, more actions that require machines. This is how sustainability is severely crippled in our country and the modern era.
For example, do I choose to use the dryers or use a drying rack? Do I choose to use the elevator or take the stairs even though I am carrying things or might be running late to something? Do I use paper towels when cleaning or reusable rags to wash? Obviously the more sustainable options have been laid out in these scenarios but when one has more things that occupy their time, they make these choices harder. But how we usually occupy our time ends up being for some way to make money or be part of some systematic tools that have been laid out for us through this society. These are things that include going to school, committing to other obligations like clubs or jobs that will ‘look good’, to get a job, to make more money. And at the end of it, you don’t feel happy anyways as you remember you were just rushing towards making more money for you to live a more comfortable life with little considerations towards the actions you could have been doing in your everyday life that would have made for a more fulfilling impact.
I challenge those to de-convenience their lives. In ways, you will learn the effort it takes to do some actions, you will become more mindful, and appreciate those things much deeper. By doing this, you make the invisible, visible again. Our society’s processes and procedures shroud a curtain over how things are done to make us abide by the unsustainable systems. We do because that is all we know. But when you figure out how to do things, make things, instead of just ordering it with free shipping online or walking into a fluorescently lighted Wal-Mart, you see what really goes into precious processes that have been taken for granted if obtained otherwise. However with the pressure from society to do so much so fast, if you fail, you are seen as left in the dust. So I am left to choose, with the two lifestyles pulling me in two different directions.
Yet we can’t look at sustainability as a sacrifice.. Actions that are good for the Earth, are also good for you. Because we are a part of it, we have to be to live. Even when you are doing these actions as a community, you take more pride in it. It doesn’t seem as hard to decide on which path to take if those around you can help you on your goals. Sustainability is really more so about simplifying things. “The hardest thing to do is simplify your life, it’s so easy to make it complex” as said in the documentary 180 degrees South. And from the words of Gandhi, “Live simply that others may simply live”. By living ‘simply’, you see how things work, the effort put into it, and how it affects others and the planet from first-hand experience.