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A Lesson In Tolerance.

We can all remember that one time we were bailed up by a (I hate to say it but it’s gotta be said) boring-preachy -I-know-better-than-you-person at a social event or gathering. While it sounds horrible to say these judgmental things out loud and/or type them on a blinking screen, it should be acknowledged that there is a right and a wrong way to share your passions about sustainable living without being ‘that-preachy-jerk’ mentioned above. Because…you know what? That little school-yard ditty ‘smarty had a party and nobody came‘ is in fact an accurate ‘sustainable futures thinking’ mantra for all those who take the holier than thou  approach to sharing their passion. If you start pushing your eco-ideas harder than a women 52 hours into her labour, then there is a good chance that you will be eating five kilograms worth of tofu on your lonesome next time you invite folks around for a BBQ. We get it! You love your planet, people, animals, and just want the whole gross overpopulation, global warming, mass extinction stuff to piss off. It is SO frustrating that there are still deniers that these issues are issues. Particularly when some of us have the ocean climbing up the banks of our islands and knocking on our front doors as if to say ‘so do you believe us that human exacerbated climate change is a real thing yet’? You (and I) can be forgiven for just wanting to slap the deniers, litterers, exploiters, and fat-cat-oil-company CEO’s in the face from time to time. But when emotions like this rise up inside you have to take a step back and think what would grumpy cat do? He would just channel his anger and cranky face into an adorable cranky meme to make the World smile. And what the World really does need is less angry folks, and more constructively passionate, caring, and tolerant people who are happy to share their values in a compassionate and understanding way (and punch couch cushions in private after watching infomercials about the latest in disposable single use plastic wrapped non-biodegradable cleaning wipes).

Angles, curves, blunt force trauma, or sustainable whiplash?

Have you ever seen Confessions of a Shopaholic? Don’t judge me too harshly for this, but I love and reference this shit out of this flick but have never actually read the book the movie is based on (how very un-scientific of me). The scene above shows Rebecca Bloomwood (the lead character who is in a severe amount of credit card debt due to her fabulous and totally unnecessary collection of clothing) being questioned over her ‘head on’ delivery on an article he wanted her to write. Aside from being incredible hilarious (‘yes… I Googled’… ha ha ha CLASSIC) it also serves to show that the delivery of a message is in fact more important than the message itself when it comes to subjects that may be a little dry, controversial, or not a socially accepted norm. According to a few people I’ve chatted to, Sustainability in Style seems to have that ‘blunt-force-smack-in-the-forehead’ approach to sharing sustainability messages, backed with a side serving of pretty fashion items and some academic scientific literature.   I apologise for anyone who may have been affected by sustainability education induced whiplash through their readings here. While I might deliver a little bit of a (totally unintentional) punch here in the way I approach my topics, I believe a lot of this comes from my years of training in scientific-type stuff. Where you write concise, precise and factually but in a way that is open to new findings, and can be 100% proven wrong at any time. If I took this approach to sharing my personal sustainability values in real life to people who don’t already share my values, it would likely leave me with a 5kg stack of BBQed tofu and tumbleweeds blowing through my sweet BBQ party set-up.  Why? Because nobody wants to be told what to do. They have to walk their own path and decide if and when they want to make changes that are sustainable, and/or ethical.

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But I love sustainability and want to shout about it from the rooftops!

It can be hard to walk the sustainable path when you feel like you are on it alone. The great thing about being a member of the globe today, despite the ‘doom and gloom’ environmental outlook, is that you are more connected than ever before. Sometimes this can be annoying, like when you work texts you at 7.30 am to ask you to come in for the day or your friend decides it would be ‘so adorable‘ to start sharing all your high school pictures on social media, but for most part you can embrace it to find likeminded people who you can connect with. The things I say to my sustainability tribe on social media are not things I would discuss un-prompted with friends or colleagues. I’ve found it best to go about my day and try to live my life in a manner that suits my values, and when people stop to ask me about my unique reusable straw or my printed recycled plastic bottle yoga pants I tell them the benefits of why I own them in a sentence or two, and if this prompts further enquiry then you have yourself a captive audience. If they look at you like you are slightly bonkers then you just embrace the fact that you have stumped someone and move the conversation along or go your separate ways. The best part about this tactic is that you will suddenly find your friends, family, and acquaintances start to share their eco finds with you because they know you will appreciate it not because they feel forced into it. By being open and leading by example you won’t have to push your ideals to be heard within your personal circles.

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Sustainable friends and foes

My family and friends don’t share the exact same values, habits, and lifestyle ambitions as me but we all work together in our own ways to show interest in each others hobbies and be respectful of each other beliefs. I’m very proud of the fact that Ged (my hubby) and I share the same core values from both studying Environmental Science, but as we progress in our careers we have each taken separate but parallel paths. Ged’s passion for food security and my love of sustainable living doesn’t always result in the same ‘futures vision’ because food security and sustainability are multifaceted issues. The differences between our two fields of interest allow us to come to the table (we quite literally discuss environmental issues over dinner) with alternate points of view and research that keeps us constantly evolving in our sustainability understanding processes. I love that he is passionate about my passions, and introduces me to new ideas like the biodegradable bamboo coffee cup he is using above (and yes… that is a small coffee cup and Ged does have MASSIVE hands inherited from his Dad’s islander heritage), and will pose for family ‘reusable beverage’ photos with me on the front lawn for the Sustainable TableGive A Fork‘ campaign without question. We don’t always see eye-to-eye on all matters (specifically of plant-based food experimentation and vegan sausages) we always have a fun time exploring our unique versions of sustainability together.

If you take this softly-soflty approach to your sustainability passions in your daily life and seek same-cause-minded people to be involved with online and in your community then you can shout your passions all over the internet (or the ocean if you join Sea Shepard) and not isolate those that love and support you but don’t necessarily want to BBQ tofu or discuss the benefits of hemp fibres over traditional cotton.

If you want to find your tribe the following are some places that you can seek support, find your voice, and take action.

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Seb got bored of posing for family photos and decided to use his collapsable bowl and Sustainability in Style internet time to audition to be a member of the band Devo. I didn’t have the heart to break it to him that the band traditionally wear red hats not blue, but fortunately for him it’s all the same because apparently red isn’t on a dogs colour spectrum. Come on Devo… I’m sure he would be happy with just a little bit of stage presence on a music video, you don’t have to let him sing or play drums (however he can play a mean drum solo on the wall with his waggy tail).

Do you have a favourite online or community group? Perhaps you have found yourself alone and crying over 5kg of BBQ tofu and want to share your pain? Let us know all about your thoughts and feelings in regards to trying to share your sustainability message with the world in the comments section. The best part about sharing here is that we will listen and help you eat all that tofu.