3 Simple Steps on my Journey Back to Sustainable Living
I grew up in a home where we cared for our immediate surroundings and were taught to care for the world and our community. We frequently spent time in nature, learning to appreciate it and protect it. We nurtured our beautiful home garden with its fruit trees and flowers.
We conserved water by reusing leftover shower water for our plants, turning off the faucet while shampooing our hair, and brushing our teeth. We used soap bars to wash our hands. We composted our food waste. We reused paper, plastic, and gift wrappings for artwork or science experiments. My siblings and I shared each other's clothes, so my wardrobe was mostly made up of hand-me-downs. We separated our trash to recycle in our neighborhood recycling bins. When we left the room, we turned off the lights. As well as disconnected chargers from their sockets when not in use. We had reusable fabric napkins for meals. My father often made home-cooked meals, and we boxed our leftovers to reduce food waste. When we did purchase new products, we chose more natural materials or ingredients when available and within our budget.
Looking back, I was raised with the awareness of the small things we can each do to help save energy, use and reuse what we already have, and purchase less. BUT as I grew older, the pace of our society became a blur of never-ending races in a world full of disposables. Mass production and ease of availability pushed me (and my parents to some extent, too) to give up on many of those mindful habits as I moved on to live my independent life.
Sustainable shopping made simple.
Years went by, and some practices held on with me, but most have dissolved or been forgotten. However, one significant thing did always remain in the back of my mind. It is the mindset, or let’s call it the awareness – that I can do better. I can take small, simple steps to make things better for myself, my surroundings, and indirectly for our planet.
This approach was there, lingering on the back burner. That was until a few years ago, when I started to think about bringing a new life into this world and the impact we have on the planet. Then these environmentally-conscious values rekindled in me, and I knew I had to start doing better and with even more fervor than before.
I started paying attention. Reading up on the ingredients of what we (my spouse and I) are eating, what products we use on our bodies, in our household, and how much waste we produce.
To make the first move toward a more sustainable life, I started with 3 simple (non-related) steps:
I started carrying 1-2 reusable bags in my everyday purse. I sometimes had an unplanned little purchase when I was out and about, even just on my way to or back from work. Something like a few bananas I forgot to pick up on the last grocery shopping day. Or maybe, I needed some extra glue for a little project. Or a treat I wanted to bring home and share with my significant other. Carrying my own bag allowed me to politely refuse a bag from vendors and waste a little less.
I was lucky enough to have tasty lunches in the cafeteria at my place of work. So instead of using disposable plastic utensils daily, I brought my own silverware to work. I brought them in once and simply washed them at the end of my meal to use the next day again. This practice encouraged one of my co-workers to do the same, and she brought her own reusable silverware to work.
I used my dad's old handkerchiefs as napkins/reusable paper towels for a while. They were not suitable for daily use and started falling apart after some time. So, in search of something more durable that will last, I encountered Marley’s Monsters. They are a (not so small anymore) family-owned company that makes reusable fabric un-paper towels that are handmade, high-quality, and long-lasting when cared for properly.
Marley’s Monsters opened a new window of sustainability options for me. Their innovative, sustainable, and reusable products support waste-free living. These easy swaps last and can bring significant change to our everyday individual lives.
These little steps we take, accumulate. They CAN make a difference. They may even rub off on someone else, seeing you act consistently and intentionally. Some of these practices can be a little difficult at first, but with time, it feels easier and can become second nature. For me, in creating a more sustainable, natural life, I start to feel lighter and more at peace with each conscious and mindful decision.
Inbar Shiryon is an artist and an educator. She draws inspiration from her everyday life and surroundings. Inbar also works with children in art and languages. She aspires to cultivate a sustainable way of living and to bring awareness of conscious choices to others by sharing information and leading by example.