The theme for this quarter’s issue of The BeZine is “SustainABILITY in turbulent times”. Everyday life is challenging right now all over the world; things are especially chaotic because of the pandemic, with political unrest and natural disasters only adding to the “turbulence” that is affecting communities and ecosystems around the globe. But the important part of that phrase at the top is the last part of the first word: “ABILITY”. We ALL have the “ability” to do something sustainable, whether it’s for ourselves, our communities or the planet, even if it’s something small.
Figure Out How To Sustain Yourself
You won’t be any good to anyone else if you cannot figure out how to sustain yourself. This has been an especially important lesson for so many during the unprecedented challenges presented by Covid-19. We’re having to learn how to keep going, despite being isolated or cut off from places, activities, and often people that we love. We each have had to come up with things to “sustain” us through this pandemic…sustain us physically, mentally, emotionally. Some of us have done better than others, but it’s something we all have to face and figure out.
How do you know what sustains you? I’m not talking about the basics, like food and shelter, although there are plenty of people who don’t even have those things right now, so their path to personal sustainability is a million times harder. But if you have food and shelter and even a job, what keeps you going? What drives you to awaken each morning and tackle the day ahead? I suggest that you stop, take a moment, and close your eyes. Breathe deeply for a count of ten and ask yourself, “What makes me happy? What brings me joy?”. Really search for and find whatever it is that brings you joy, whether it’s a hobby like painting, knitting, wood-working, gardening, or simply taking ten or twenty minutes each day to get some exercise outdoors or relax with your favorite music and meditate. And if you can’t come up with anything? Now is the perfect time to find and try something new. You have the ability to discover what truly makes you happy and can keep you going, what will sustain you through these hard times and beyond.
Find Ways To Sustain Your Community
As an individual part of your community, you have the ability to make it better. You can help others around you, and by doing so, make where you live a more inviting and sustainable place. Perhaps you can start small, and make a commitment to check on your elderly neighbor every day, to make sure that they can keep going. Maybe you have the ability for something on a larger scale, like getting together with a few people in your neighborhood and starting a sustainable, community vegetable garden that will provide for several families?
Perhaps you have an artistic ability that can be used to paint murals on ugly cement walls in the neighborhood to brighten the space, and you can even invite others to help (socially distanced, of course). If you’re an animal lover, maybe you can help the strays in your area, by TNR-ing and feeding a cat colony, or commit to not using chemicals on your lawn so that the birds, bees and butterflies have a non-toxic place to feed. When people ask you what you’re doing, invite them to participate! Maybe you can prepare and distribute meals or care-packages for the homeless in your area? There are so many ways to help keep the community going, to sustain that sense of “belonging” that has been sorely missing in these days of isolation and loneliness. The challenge is looking for ways to help improve the community with your unique abilities.
Help Sustain The Planet
This is probably what most people consider the toughest challenge when it comes to sustainability, but it doesn’t have to be. We each have the power, the ability, to make choices that have ripple effects. We can choose to be more sustainable in our lifestyles and follow one or all of the “Five R’s of Sustainability“.
Beyond those five steps, you can research the companies from which you buy things. Here is one list of the top 100 Most Sustainable Companies of 2020. Use the power of your wallet as a consumer and reward companies that are trying to be “green”, “eco-friendly“, or who are committed to helping the planet instead of trashing it. Would you consider using a shampoo that came in a biodegradable bar (like a bar of soap) instead of in a plastic, non-recyclable bottle? How about NOT buying snacks which use an unsustainable source of Palm Oil – instead, find snacks that are committed to only sustainable sources.
Yes, it takes time to do the research and you have to actually care about it in the first place. But you have the ability to decide to be a part of the human race who either helps the planet or hurts it. In truth, we are all probably a mix of both. As for me, I would rather work towards an Earth where there are still large, green spaces with lots of plants, animals and trees, where the rivers, lakes and oceans aren’t a toxic, plastic and garbage-filled soup and where the air and water are free of so much pollution. How about you?