I was recently nominated for Urban Ambassador’s Ambassador of the Year Award. Part of the nomination included a thinking piece. I was asked:
a. Why do you feel it is important to be sustainable in your day to day activities?
b. What motivates you to bring people together on the issue of sustainability, whether through beekeeping or food systems?
Wow! A difficult mental task. Question b is easy – I am motivated by fun and learning (beekeeping) and by having a just food system, the power of many brains, and vision. But Question a is tough for me.
I really had to consider what sustainable means to me. I think I formed an idea in my head at a very young age that was sustainability, but I had never used that exact term. I feel strongly that I am responsible for the use of the resources where I have influence.
Answering how I am sustainable, what I’m doing to be sustainable, where my sustainable activities are held – those are extremely easy to things to express. WHY is much more difficult. I feel strongly that I am responsible for the use of the resources where I have influence — but WHY? Because it’s right. That’s such a lame answer. It’s right to be sustainable. I enjoy life more and get more back than I receive when I live sustainably. I want to spend some time on where that thought originated.
Maybe it’s my four grandparents having Depression-era habits. I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with all of my grandparents. I do not think this is a reason for a daily sustainable lifestyle, though, because I do not have thoughts of honor, heritage, or nostalgia when using glass jars. However, I do have thoughts of frugality during these acts, so I’m wondering if I grew up with the idea of sustainability from a money-saving perspective.
Also, discussion of moral issues and Church teaching in Catholic school was required. Maybe some feeling of responsibility for the earth comes from the influence of my church, St. Francis of Assisi, where I have many visual reminders about nature (and all those LED’s). Maybe the current pope’s latest encyclical, Laudato Sí, is getting to me.
I don’t know why I think sustainability is right. I know that I treasured nature from early childhood. Camping, large picture windows, gardening, having a forest and gully for a backyard, bird feeding, and grandmothers with field guides and encyclopedias all helped this idea. But I don’t remember “saving natural resources” as a topic of conversation.
More recently, when we had very high gas prices, I really considered all the ways that oil has seeped everywhere into our lives, which lead to thoughts on the finite amount of oil we have. In the more distant past, serving as the ISU Solar Car Business Manager exposed me to many possibilities with alternative energy sources. Even more distant is a memory of reading the kiddie pages in the local paper about solar ovens. (I saved that kiddie page and found it recently in the basement!) It seems that sustainability thoughts come from many places, over many years, and mixed themselves up in my head.
In the end, I guess I’m not concerned with where my sustainability journey began. I know that I like the way I live, that I can change my habits to match new information, that I am doing the best that I can with what I have, and in the end, I can sleep well every night.