Change is the only constant
When it comes to trying to make sense of our place here on this orbiting pile of rock it’s kind of hard to ignore the fact that control is only an illusion. Whether it takes a terrorist attack, race riots, or a momentary blocking of the sun in the middle of the day to jog your memory- we sometimes need our safety net shaken up to remind us life is precious.
This post comes off the back of a series of events that reminded me that change and death are our true fates in this lifetime. That environment, and careers that study the environment are always in a constant state of change because nature is never static. We generally live in awe/fear of the change of climate, weather events, the vast ocean or the fierceness of a predator like the great white shark. But truthfully these life altering encounters or phenomena should only serve as reminder of the magic of our existence in the first place.
Where I’ve been hiding.
Many of you have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet of late. I’m sorry to be M.I.A but it’s been an ever changing time. With job prospects/changes, trying to follow up my ever confusing academic studies (that still aren’t at a resolve after a year and a half of trying to get them sorted post-department-closure), developing content for a members site, and a death in the extended family there’s been a lot of development opportunities and not much time to write about them over here.
Studying science isn’t the best way to change the world for the better.
I get asked often how I fell into my line of study or ‘how do you become an environmental scientist or sustainability researcher’. My answer to these questions is usually disappointing. I normally advise people NOT to study environment or sustainability as a degree UNLESS they are prepared for a life with no consistency and have the grit and resilience to chase their passions through the good and the bad. Don’t worry- this isn’t a pessimistic post, it’s a round-about-route to change your dreams.
Sadly there are few jobs committed to sustainability or the environment. Most jobs fit INTO our society or the economy which means that if you really want to affect change for good in the environment you are better off doing it from inside an industry. Love turtles but don’t want to sink 30k into a science degree only to spend your life post-grad working in the supermarket to pay for your un-funded turtle research? Think industry specific instead.
Find a commercial industry that impacts on turtles, like boating, fishing, tourism, or even as high up as consumer goods wrapped in plastic that wash into the oceans. Moving into an industry that directly impacts on turtle health can have incredible impacts. Why not study marketing and do a subject or two (or a post grad certificate) in sustainability? Then you can work on eco-friendly biodegradable packaging for consumer goods. If you got into a major fast-food retailer and just one of your designs were implemented you would have a far greater long-term positive impact on turtle health than you would picking up litter on the beach as part of your environmental science project. Then you can spend your spare time working directly in an animal hospital as a turtle rescue volunteer.
But some of us are
stubborn have grit
If you read the section above and thought
‘screw you and your terrible life advice… I’m going to study environment and sustainability as my sole focus anyways’
then good on you. Welcome to club fluid! If you choose to go for it, regardless of the fact that we currently have no real economic value placed on environment and sustainability (unless we can link it directly to consumer goods, legislation, or tourism) be ready to live a fluid lifestyle with no real certainty.
Focusing on environment and sustainability in their own right (this is flora and fauna studies, science, sustainability, and philosophy) can be a long road to nowhere. Why nowhere? Many of the issues that we look at have no answer in our lifetimes! So quite often the commitment to study these sorts of issues is a commitment to future generation or the future of species on our planet. If you are passionate or gritty enough, you can hold on to a career in these areas as long as you are willing to flow with the changes- and there will be PLENTY of changes. Why? Because there are very few people or places that will fund this kind of work. So you have to get creative in finding funding to make it a career, not a hobby. It’s not always going to be the easiest path but you can make your dreams of a career in environment a reality with enough elbow grease or a whole lot of luck.
Shaking off the fear of change
Turn on the TV. Check your phone. Scroll through Facebook. Our media- be it mainstream or social- does a really good job of making us scared. It’s part of the ploy to have you forever looking for ways to make yourself happy. Happy people don’t spend as much time searching outside themselves for things that will give them validity to others, or security measures that will keep them safe from harm. Sure, happy people still shop, live in homes, and go to jobs, but they are generally more satisfied with what they already have, which makes them less rampant consumers than unhappy people. Unfortunately most of our media isn’t really focused on happy occasions (aside from the occasional puppy video) it’s more focused on making us aware of fearful events and the sadness of death.
The one thing we never want to talk is about is death even though it’s all over the media! You will die. It’s the ONLY certainty in life after birth and this certainty is something we should embrace. Some might thinks it’s a weird headspace to be in to have comfort in the one and only guarantee we are made. But in a way it’s nice to know our fate from the first day. Embracing the fact that you will die can be liberating. For me, this was instilled young, from growing up on a small farm and seeing life and death, to loosing a close friend in a car accident in my early 20’s. Death was a part of life and not a ‘hidden’ or ‘taboo’ one. What you do in the days, week, months, or years you have from birth to death are the exciting results of the decisions you choose to take and the actions you make in order to order the chaos that is daily living.
What do I want to do to make the world a better place?
Depending on how much time you have spent considering your own demise, and whether or not you are prescribed to a religious belief system, you might be feeling a little gloomy or confused. This was not the point of the post! When you can accept your only given, it’s freeing to know that the cliche of ‘it’s called the present because each moment is a gift’ is actually true.
When you stop worrying about how much time you have in the future an amazing thing happens- you get to make the most of the now. We all live and play a part in economic and social systems that give order to what otherwise would be 7+ billion people doing whatever they felt like (and for this we should be thankful). But outside of this social and economic order, you get to decide every day, how your actions will better the world in the time you are here.
Some of us may find solace in sharing mementos of our existence here on earth through social media following, accumulating status or wealth, or perhaps by passing on our linage through our children. While these ensure you are living past this lifetime they don’t always guarantee that you lived well in the here and now.
Rather than thinking past today to what your life will be like tomorrow (or how your long hours at work benefit your kids because they will have a good car/house/schooling/persian cat/ iPad case with bling/ etc.) set an intention on what you can do right here and now to better your world. It can be picking up litter, bringing your own coffee cup, stopping to ask someone on the street who is crying if they need to talk, or spending your day off at the turtle rehab centre. Sure, you might not make history books for picking up litter, but then you won’t be around to read the history books anyways so why care?
What you will be around for is a planet drowning in it’s own litter, fear mongering about terrorism, racial hate, homophobia, and species decline. The cool bit about these bad problems is that you can directly impact on them EVERY SINGLE DAY. It really is that easy to have an impact as a sustainability warrior in an ever changing world. No degree necessary.
What’s on my daily agenda.
So, sorry folks, that was a long winded and slightly distracted post! I just sorta let the writing come as it wants to- I only pretend to have control over it with the publish button. Back to my chat about what’s happening here. First up, I’ve got some job changes on the horizon that will be for the better. Still trying to find a supervisor/uni for the continuation of my studies. Freelance writing is still a-go-go and I’m still here on the blog, but my time has been limited.
Why have I been a little quiet here? Good question! It’s because I’ve been sinking a good portion of my time into developing content for the Eco Style Insiders subscription based content. I’m loving every moment of it but it’s quite an in-depth process (sort of the equivalent of writing the course content for several university subjects on sustainable style… why do I do this to myself??).
I’m hoping it will be finished in the next month but the ever amazing and shocking changes in life always place hurdles in the way (we really didn’t see the death in the family coming). Once the site is live I’m hoping your patronage will support my sustainability research studies so I don’t have to rely on flakey government (or other one off) grants to fund it. I want to make sustainability research sustainable. I was originally going to have my research project based on the book I have written, but have since decided it will be based on the #garmentgratitude movement as it’s a little easier to extrapolate data from. Which is great news because as soon as I’ve finished the members site I can get stuck into polishing up the book and releasing it for sale through this website!
If all goes well with the members site (which I hope it will) Sustainability in Style has a post PhD business plan, if not, it will fall back to a side project at the end of study as truthfully, blogs and blog related social media are a massive time and money sink (without resorting to advertising and collabs). I worked in fashion before, I’m not really all that keen to do it again by making this an advertising funded fashion blog. I would find more joy in working in full time plant science than the fashion industry and could just as easily move into sustainability education once I’ve made it through studies.
So please bear with me while I get the content finished for the members site! I promise it’s not too far off!
In the mean time please share any thoughts you might have from this post below.