Thursday, December 8, 2011

In My Own Words::Sustainable Living Defined:Part 1

Ask 5 people what it means to live a sustainable lifestyle and you’ll get 5 very different answers. A buzzword for sure, but not many of us are able to define it.
Even Webster seems a little uncertain! Here’s their definition:
“1: capable of being sustained 2a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged <sustainable techniques> <sustainable agriculture>; 2b: of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods”
Through my research and discussions with others regarding the subject, I have created my own definition. Here it is, in my own words:
Sustainable living involves designing a deeply enjoyable and rewarding life that is interdependent on like-minded others, ecologically responsible and centered around the home.
Sustainable living is all about making decisions based on knowledgeable insight. It’s about being intentional. And it’s about effecting change in order to improve our quality of life and that of future generations!
Every little choice we make, every small step we take in the direction of this lifestyle moves us closer and closer to the goal!
Common Misconceptions
There are plenty of misconceptions regarding sustainable living; primarily because sustainability can look different for everyone. Most of the inquiries I receive from others who have questions about the lifestyle ask:
·       What kind of car do you drive? Or, let me guess, you ride your bike!
·       Does it mean I have to have chickens?
·       Can I still shop at the grocery store?
·       So, are you a hippie?
·       Do you ever go to the movies or the mall?
·       Is your house made out of straw-bales?
The answer could be yes, no, and sometimes to each one of these questions. Because here’s the thing about sustainability…it’s a personal journey down a path full of constant learning and lifestyle adjustments. It’s about making decisions that make the most sense to us, assuming our own standards, needs, and morals. It’s about intentional living. It’s about being fully present and aware of the implications of our daily actions.
Those things that you find important and valuable may not necessarily be important to, or valued by, your family, friends, or neighbors. And guess what…that’s OK! It’s the charm of sustainability.
So what will I have to give up?
Still thinking that a sustainable lifestyle will require sacrifice? Are you afraid that you will have to give up your most beloved possessions? Don’t worry! Contrary to popular belief, having “enough” and “living within our means” does not mean self-denial. It simply means being okay with what you already have.
However, sustainable living will require that we become more careful with our decisions. We naturally tend to function on autopilot; everyone with his/her own specialty. We don’t really prioritize our thoughts about deeply held standards, our beliefs, and the significance of our actions. Instead, we spend without a budget, and then panic when we see the credit card bill. The planner has no more space for appointments, and then we wonder why we’re so stressed out. We go about our daily business and are puzzled when laws pass that restrict who can grow what and where.
What does sustainable living mean to you? What is important and valued in your home?
Let’s take just a moment for reflection! I want you to open a new Word doc., copy and paste the following questions, and then answer them honestly.  
1.    I love doing these three things…
2.    I used to love doing these three things…
3.    These three things are on my bucket list…
4.    Now, here are three good reasons why I don’t do 1, 2, and 3…
Identifying those things that you love to do will help you to focus on your values. And recognizing barriers to those things will help you live more intentionally.
No doubt there are many obstacles to sustainable living. However, the key is to focus on what is most important to us and do that! Because in the end, being the people we were created to be is the most sustainable act we could ever perform.
Now it’s your turn! Share, in your own words, what sustainable living means to you!

See this post and a host of others like it here:Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource, Creative Juice Thursday, Freaky Friday, Friday's Nature Table,  Friday Favorites,  Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites, Farmgirl Friday, Frugal Friday, Gallery of Favorites, Inspired Me Friday, SNS 111, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Get Schooled, Nifty Thrify Sunday, Monday Mania, Homestead Barn Hop, Made By You, Just Something I Whipped Up, Homemaker Monday, More The Merrier, Inspire Me Monday, Cure for the Common Monday, Tip Me Tuesday, Handmade Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Raising Homemakers


At December 8, 2011 at 8:08 AM , Anonymous ElizabethAnn said...

It means making conscience decisions on what is important in my life. Then to take those decisions, cut what is not important, to be able to focus time and energy on what is important.

At December 8, 2011 at 8:41 AM , Anonymous Thippi said...

I LOVE this post Andrea, your words speak so clearly to help me see the beauty in trying to live a more sustainable life. LOVE your definition...I'll soak it in, do some self reflection and hopefully come to the conclusion of my own definition of what it means for me to live a more sustainalbe life. Thank you for inspiring me & help me not feel so quilty about things I haven't done yet to be able to claim myself as living sustainably...I simply appreciate what I have but will always strive to do better, for the sake of the World & all that is in it.

At December 8, 2011 at 8:44 AM , Blogger qhartman said...

I would define a sustainable lifestyle, which is the lifestyle that my wife and I are working on crafting, as a variation of your definition:

"Sustainable living is the process living a deeply enjoyable and rewarding life that is minimally dependent upon systems beyond our influence, community-focused, and centered around the home."

I think working towards this definition will cause the other often-quoted elements of "sustainability" to follow-on as a matter of course.

At December 8, 2011 at 11:56 AM , Anonymous Stacy Makes Cents said...

This made me giggle.....because my husband calls me a hippie. He jokes about buying me a VW van. LOL
For me, I usually define the word frugal instead of sustainable. My definition: being a good steward of what the Lord has given me.

At December 8, 2011 at 12:55 PM , Anonymous 'Becca said...

Am I the only one who doesn't see what being "centered around the home" has to do with being sustainable? I understand that staying home more and having complete loops for some of your resources (for example, growing tomatoes, composting the inedible parts of the plants, and saving the seeds to plant next year) are way to increase sustainability. But a small home with no yard within walking distance of other places you go, and shopping daily at a nearby market preferring locally produced items, also can be sustainable and is not a home-centric lifestyle.

I think Webster's definition 2a says it pretty clearly, actually. To me, sustainable means you can keep doing it for a long time without running out of anything.

At December 8, 2011 at 3:20 PM , Anonymous Andrea @ Frugally Sustaianble said...

@'Becca Great question concerning sustainability being "centered around the home!" For me, sustainability has everything to do with our home. The whole idea behind our sustainable lifestyle involves a committment that our home will be know for the things we produce, not the things we consume. As you mentioned, growing our own food is only part of that. Producing as much as we can from our own home is the goal:) We are presently living on a small suburban lot while we prepare our 20 acre property for full-time living in the future. Even then, we will still rely somewhat on others for our needs, but our home will always be the center of our sustainability.

At December 8, 2011 at 4:21 PM , Blogger Glo said...

Great blog! Very much enjoying reading. :)

At December 8, 2011 at 4:30 PM , Blogger Anna said...

Actually, I don't think God intended for any one person to live totally self-sustainable. I think He gave us differing skills so that we could work together to live comfortably, and healthfully.
My idea of self-sustainable living, first and foremost, is to get completely away from being dependent upon the corporations. Growing as much as possible of our own foods, making everything possible that we use, recycling/repurposing what is already there, bartering with other individuals for products and services, while having to use as little cash as possible .... selling our own produced goods to attain that little bit of cash needed - is my opinion of self-sustaining, and the goal I am headed for.

At December 8, 2011 at 5:33 PM , Blogger Modern Day Redneck said...

This was really well written, Thank you. I enjoyed it.

At December 8, 2011 at 9:16 PM , Blogger Mara Wildflower said...

This was certainly and interesting view point. Your thoughts regarding sustainability have given me something to think about.

At December 9, 2011 at 6:23 AM , Blogger Bee Girl said...

Love this post! Thanks for sharing your perspective :-)

At December 9, 2011 at 8:53 AM , Blogger Kindra-At Home With K said...

I realized I haven't been following you. Shame on me! I am your newest follower! I always enjoy your posts!

At December 9, 2011 at 9:58 AM , Blogger Tina´s PicStory said...

wonderful pic! :)

At December 9, 2011 at 3:49 PM , Anonymous leslie@realfoodfreaks said...

Love your posts on sustainable living... you always give me great food for thought!

At December 10, 2011 at 5:32 PM , Blogger Lynnie said...

Very thought provoking! Our family is on the same track as you, we are just trying to press out our new normal since buying 6 acre farm property. We are doing it day by day and becoming more and more self sustainable based on the sills God has entrusted us with! We are able to store many foods from our garden to overflowing and able to even supply or neighbors with much as well, that was rewarding! Thanks for posting this, you hit so many nails on the head. I know there are many people who look at our family now and wonder if we are picking the food out of our teeth with broom straws etc. Blessings! Have a Merry Christmas!

At December 10, 2011 at 8:19 PM , Blogger Jessica said...

We had this phrase growing-up, "hippier than thou." By who's standards? I always cringed inwardly, as others were judged for their choices.
What are my convictions? They might be the same as yours to a point. I think it is wrong to make my convictions yours.
I like your "centered around home". When I think of that I think of my husband and 6 children all pulling together. I am NOT a soccer mom, running this one here there and myself ragged. We work together, we are involved in each other, we pray together, we worship together. And when my children are grown, they will take their family units and establish their own value system. And I'll try not to flinch if my grand-babies drink koolaid.

Sustainability, I believe shouldn't be confused with being self-sufficient. Like what Anna said, God didn't intend us to be in that way. As much as I want to be independent of the world, I want to be compliant to Him.

At December 11, 2011 at 12:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this post, it is always so hard to describe the changes I've made in my life. I often get questions about what's the right thing to do in certain situations. Most situations I can't say one particular way is the "right" way instead I find myself explaining the how I come to the decision that is right for me. Learning the impact of my decision and finding a balance between environmental impact, cost, work on my part and many other factors. For me it is not about denying myself something, instead it is more about finding a better choice. What "better" means is very individual.

At December 13, 2011 at 4:07 PM , Anonymous Heather Anderson said...

This was a great post! Like so many things we think in terms of extremes. But sustainable living is more like a journey, taking one step at a time. Our culture is so far removed from sustainable living that it will take time, education, and making changes little by little.


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