Ari commented on yesterday’s post that:
… fortunately I find that just like the transition to veganism, it isn’t just about “giving things up” but also about gaining new awareness and wonderful new alternatives.
and I’m so glad she reminded us!
That was one of the many things that I think I had intended to say, but was chased away by the chill in my condo.
Ari’s comment also reminded me that I’d intended to write at some point about something that her partner had posted back in November, Recycling…the least you can do.
Most people have heard “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” in which the first is preferable and recycling is only what you should do after you’ve exhausted use, but Holmgren adds a couple more key Rs to the list – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle. To refuse is paramount, especially in the United States, which is disproportionately responsible for resource consumption and carbon emissions. To refuse is pretty easy when you start asking yourself “Do I really need this?” before purchasing new stuff.
Ari and Shira are pursuing sustainability with real dedication, which I find inspiring.
Back to Ari’s comment, I can say with emphasis that the biggest changes I’ve made towards sustainability (or at least lessening my impact) have brought me incredible joy and satisfaction. Bike commuting is so far from being a “sacrifice”, it is something I love. Unfortunately I don’t think anyone can imagine that trading an easy against-traffic 20 minute commute for a hilly bike commute that takes over an hour would be anything other than a sacrifice unless they got out there and did it themselves.
Gardening, which I just started this year, is another of those changes. I had such a great time. Watching green things grow, being able to walk outside to gather ingredients for a meal, it was inarguably well worth the time spent, and brought me a great deal of satisfaction. It was also extremely motivating from a photography standpoint! I got a book from the library yesterday on organic gardening. I need to do some planning for next year’s garden, and will be starting to sprout seeds in just a few months, so even though we are at day 2 of winter, according to the meteorological calendar, it is a good time to be reading about gardening.
I also want to read about permaculture, though my patio has been smothered by landscaping rocks for years, so there is no natural habitat to work around. Still, I think there will be many things I will want to incorporate into my small patio garden, as I begin to plan things.
I started composting this year also, from which I derive another good amount of satisfaction, if a bit more low-key. It is great to feel that those organic scraps are being made good use of, rather than ending up in the garbage. My neighbor now contributes to my compost as well.
And of course there is the vegan food. I can honestly say that I never enjoyed food as much as since going vegan. Though I now take it for granted, I can remember those first few months after going vegan, when I felt giddy every time I made something and rejoiced in the fact that I was finally not contributing to animal exploitation with the food I ate.
Of course all of this is a process more than a destination, and there are always new things to incorporate into my life. This year has been fairly amazing, actually, with the gardening, composting, bike commuting, and switch to handkerchiefs.
It feels good. And so it deserves an ani difranco quote:
i do it for the joy it brings
because i’m a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it’s the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
and i do it just because i want to
because i want to