To begin, I think it would be appropriate for me to outline a little about who I am and what led me to begin down this path of sustainable living and, ultimately, to creating this blog.
I’m a mid-twenties young woman living, working and studying in Brisbane, Australia. I’ve grown up in a wonderfully supportive, beautifully nurturing family with a mother, father and sister I love dearly. As a child, my family moved around the country frequently for my parents’ work so I had the privilege of living in rural coastal towns, rural country pockets surrounded by mountains and forest, and amongst palm trees in tropical Far North Queensland. I learnt quite young where milk came from, that meat didn’t just arrive packaged from the supermarket, and that there are many different ways of living and existing that are equally valid and fulfilling.
The Lansdowne Valley - where I spent some of my childhood. Courtesy of Firene via Google Earth.
Regardless of where I spent my childhood, however, my upbringing was essentially a middle-class one. A big house in the suburbs (or in the mountains, or at the beach, whichever it happened to be at the time), new and bigger cars every few years, bigger televisions, bigger houses, corporate promotions, bigger family debts and more stress. As a teenager I watched the breakdown of my parent’s marriage and began to sense that there had to be something simpler than this. An easier way of living. A way of living that didn’t create such disharmony.
When I was seventeen I moved to Brisbane to study a dual Arts and Education degree, majoring in French and Media Studies. Out on my own, without friends or family, I created new networks and began, what I call, my real education. As I studied and made new friends, I began to associate with people who shared my ideals of living simply, of living naturally. I lived in sharehouses and learnt about vegetarianism from vegans and started drinking soy milk and eating wholegrain bread. I walked everywhere and rode a pushbike. I ate organically. I used organic beauty products. I abhorred all types of corporations and delved into activism. I was arrested for protesting at 17 when I ran in front of a truck logging the last inner-city bushland. I lived idealistically. I had yet to be tainted by the cynicism of adulthood.
In 2005 I traveled to teach English in France. I was posted in an economically depressed part of the north, and was provided with accommodation in one of the bleak, in fact utterly depressing areas that was the site of the 2005 riots. I began to learn about geopolitics and discrimination. I traveled to North Africa and was astounded by the poverty and the lack of basic facilities that I took for granted in my country. I began to realise how capitalism became the dominant economic model and, for the first time, I appreciated the general freedom that it provided me. I began to understand that the hippy paradigm of “poorer people in third world countries may have less but they are generally happier” was not wholly true. I began to eat meat again, went shopping more, drove my car more, and generally indulged all the middle-class capitalist desires that had lay dormant within me.
Upon my return, I felt somewhat alienated from my old friends. I had a different perspective. The constant complaining about what I now saw as the choice of privilege had got me down. I perceived a discourse of negativity, and saw little real proactive changes being made. I then began to think that there had to be some kind of balance, a balance between rampant capitalism with no regard for the environment and extreme environmentalism, where everyday pleasures are causes of guilt. Is it not possible to have an environmentally conscious form of capitalism? After all, profit isn’t the enemy, greed is. Greed at the sake of the planet, at the sake of the health of future generations and, ultimately, at the sake of ourselves.
Therefore this blog is my attempt to achieve my dream of living sustainably. It’s about finding ways to enjoy current pleasures in an ethical and environmental way rather than simply foregoing them. It’s about being practical. About not impeding your life, but enhancing it. It’s ultimately about living greener within our current lifestyles, still stylishly, always ethically. After all, we can still have our lattes and chocolate, just make sure they’re fair trade!