My first step into intentional living came through a desire to be a better steward of the environment. My passion for making intentional life choices started here, and caring for the environment remains a subject central to my identity and close to my heart.
I come from a family who does care for the environment, and we did many of the main-stream, conventional things Americans so. We recycled, we gardened, we bought many things used (probably more out of frugality than environmentalism, but hey, it still counts!). We were not particularly wasteful, but we did not make many specific efforts beyond what is considered conventional.
Fast forward to life as newly-wed, living in a very liberal college town. I began to learn more about environmental care, and it was so INTIMIDATING! For a while I was clueless about all of the very active environmentalists around me, being so wrapped up in my own life and trying to get the hang of this whole “adult” thing, but after being the recipient of a few snide comments from co-workers and acquaintances, I began to question my semi-wasteful lifestyle.
Over time, I became acutely aware that I could be doing more to care for creation, but the people around me were lightyears ahead of me in regards to living in an environmentally conscious way. I felt like making intentional choices to preserve the earth was beyond me. It was unattainable. It was too expensive. I didn’t have enough time. I wasn’t knowledgeable enough. Maybe I just wasn’t a good enough person to take on this role as a caretaker of the environment.
Luckily, I enjoy a good challenge and I began to search online, at the library, and through talking with friends and mentors to try and find a way to access a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. I figured, there has to be a way for me to access and implement environmental practices starting from where I am. It can’t be all about quadrupling my grocery budget in order to shop exclusively at the co-op. It can’t all be about ditching my gas-guzzling ancient car for a high-priced fuel-efficient one I can’t afford! It can’t possibly be all about purchasing expensive essential oils or fancy “green” household cleaners! There has to be a way for little old me, poor newly-wed, to practice creation care without going broke!
In retrospect, there are two issues that caused me to feel intimidated and challenged. Fist was my own self-esteem. I was just barely learning how to adult, and I felt so vulnerable as a new grown-up and new wife. The second was the judgement from others around me. These people cared so deeply and lived with such intentional regard for the environment that they came off as judgmental when they expressed their shock that I did not compost or buy organic produce.
These amazing stewards of the planet scared me off of environmental care, rather than inspiring me to do better. Instead of gently encouraging me to make better choices, and helping me find ways to live more contentiously within my means, they passed judgement. Most of those people are lovely humans who absolutely made a positive impact on my life, but if they had shared their passion rather than passed judgement, I would have found my environmental path much sooner.
In honor of Earth Day, I will be posting more about my journey to making more environmentally-friendly choices. I am excited to share how I took baby steps over time, the challenges I’ve faced, and what I am doing now to care for creation. I will also be posting encouragement and step-by-step guides so you too can feel empowered to make a positive change toward a more earth-friendly lifestyle regardless of where you are in your journey.
In the meantime, I want to encourage all of us, myself included, to share our passions from a place of inspiration and encouragement to others rather than a place of judgement.