Welcome to the new world
By Jo Clearwater
The tide of consciousness is shifting. Blessedly, the miasma that seemed to blanket the world with apathy and avoidance is finally being lifted away. Welcome!
It may seem a new and frightening place, but truly it is most wonderful; you must simply stay in the present and be willing to learn and experience new things. Understand that every aspect of life, every molecule is connected to you; if you’re negative and hurt someone or something by thought, word or deed, you’ll hurt yourself. By the same token, your every positive thought or action adds to the greater good.
What we have come to, then, is the understanding and application of sustainability. Sustainability, as defined by Wiktionary, is “a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society, its members, and its economies are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, planning and acting to maintain these ideals for a very long time.”
There are so many ways we can endeavor to create sustainability in our own lives, from the micro to the macro. Pages upon pages could not contain every idea, let alone a tiny column. Still, below are simple ways to get started. Remember: small steps consistently applied yield great results and aren’t overwhelming.
In the home, begin by reducing consumption, including all items such as food, energy and toys. Shop locally and avoid over-packaged items. Reduce energy by unplugging phantom users, like most electronics, when they’re not needed. Install sensor light fixtures that shut off automatically when you leave the room. Consider compact fluorescent light bulbs. Remember these contain a small amount of mercury (5 mg) and must be disposed of at a facility able to handle toxic waste. (Google CFLs to learn proper safety handling if breakage occurs.)
Outside, install rainwater collectors to water plants. Learn about xeroscaping to reduce water needs. Plant a garden and incorporate intercropping, using raised beds and natural methods. Compost to fertilize, and mulch to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and keep roots cool in summer.
Drive vehicles with good gas mileage. Consider the huge carbon footprint acquisition, importation, processing and delivery of petro fuels and goods create.
Subscribe to Organic Gardening and Mother Earth News magazines. Then pass them around to friends. Join the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture to help them with their good works, and get to know how you can better support your local farmers. (Tell them I sent you. You won’t get a discount, but you’ll get a smile.)
Become an active participant in your community. (The ambulance corps can desperately use your help.) In working to help one another, we do sustain our communities. Consider using barter systems to exchange services for goods or services for services.
Importantly, do not neglect your self. As sustainability speaks to outward focus, it also focuses on the inward journey. One must fill one’s own cup so that it can be poured out to others. In this time we can easily become overwhelmed physically and emotionally. Small changes in diet and lifestyle can easily help create joy and fulfillment.
Our community is a wonderful thing. Many of us are working to create ways to bring sustainability for all of us. To that end, The Local Sustainable Energy Group of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance is developing. The purpose of the group is to promote local sustainability through education, research, funding and advocacy. It is our hope that we can all work together for the common good.
(Jo Clearwater is hospice nurse, herbalist, sustainable farmer and mother of four.)