I definitely can't call myself the perfect role model when it comes to conscious, sustainable living, but I do my best with both 1) taking mid-sized steps towards implementing more sustainable practices into every aspect of my life, and 2) advocacy. I've found I have become quite innovative when it comes to small, positive changes, like my newspaper gift wrapping over Christmas, or the compost system I'm currently working on for "small apartment living". Most people view sustainable development as this HUGE, unsolvable problem (well...it is slowly becoming that with that type of attitude) BUT, making the essential changes we need to see a positive, sustained future ahead of us, can be done by doing what we can, and spreading those positive changes with others. I mean, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, my friend. Caution: Fabulous saying, but don't actually eat any elephants.
As we enter another year, full of endless opportunity, possibility, and the complete unknown, discovering your values and ways to stay true to them, is key to pursuing goals, hitting milestones, and becoming the best YOU you can be. You can sprinkle that last line with extra (dairy-free) cheese.
So, all that being said, I came up with a silly little acronym for 2017: RAPS - research, attain, practice and share. This is my four step system for the chain reaction of positive milestones that are yet to come for you, my dear reader, to enable yourself to really start making those positive changes for yourself, your family, friends, and community. Whether it's the food you are eating, the products you are using, the amount of kilometers you are traveling, or the amount of garbage you are producing. Take a moment the next time you go to do all those daily things, and flow through these simple steps:
If you are checking the ingredients of the brand of chips you buy, or the eggnog you had over the holidays, why wouldn't you check what's going into your moisturizer, face wash, or mascara? Here's a name that may look familiar to you: Butylated Hydroxytoluene, also known as BHT. This preservative is a toluene-based ingredient used to preserve food and personal car products. Scientific test results have shown signs of mutation in mammals AND brain tumor formation at high doses. BHT is evident in almost every breakfast cereal, and most food items that come in a box or a can. BHT can also be found in most generic moisturizers that you buy from your local pharmacy. That means you are DIRECTLY applying this to your most absorbent organ - that's right, organ. Surprise! Skin is an ORGAN. And an essential one at that! It only takes 26 seconds for moisturizers, lotions and makeup to absorb through the skin and into the bloodstream. Now imagine how much BHT is probably swimming through your bloodstream, trying to mutate your cells RIGHT NOW! (Sorry for the scare tactic).
The next step is to take that research you do and keep it at the forefront of your brain, your internal alarm, and watch it start to go off naturally when you do your daily shopping, eating, and traveling. This is the in-between step after you've started researching, and are unsure of what your next step is. Really, the "attain" step is here to prove to you that you need to move forward with friendly products and step away from possible BHT MUTATION!
Take the research you've done, the information you've now attained, and begin to practice buying, consuming, absorbing, and contributing to safe, positive, and friendly alternatives and offsets to accompany a conscious and sustainable lifestyle. This does NOT have to be all at one. There is no peer pressure in this. It took me a long time to get to where I am with the consumable products I use and buy, the food and beverage I consume, and how I choose to separate and dispose of my waste. It is time consuming, it is expensive, and it is super inconvenient. But it puts forth positive energy and a optimistic outlook for our beautiful planet. That will always be a priority of mine, and one of my strongest values.
Why not, right? You've taken the time to educate yourself, you've started to look at life differently with the information you've attained, you are trying new things out here and there; share it with those close to you. Now that you know about one of the most commonly used chemicals, that threatens our health DAILY (and we don't even know how to pronounce it), is effecting just about everyone you know, don't you think it's time to let the secret out?
You don't need to be a hippy, an activist, a social good-doer or a vegan to start living a conscious, sustainable lifestyle. Slow and steady wins the race. And by sharing your knowledge with those around you, YOU are making one of the biggest steps our generation needs right now: change.
Happy new year everyone. Let's make it a green one.