How long have you been eco-friendly? I would say since I was 17/18 years old, when I began appreciating my academic passion for Geography. Learning about the environment, and more specifically sustainable living from a personal/local level boosted my spirits. My parents are keen recyclers, conscious about energy use and have instilled in us a commitment to care for the earth (in effect, saving them money ha).
Why did you choose to be eco-friendly? I chose to be eco-friendly because it is such a beautiful lifestyle and I am continuously inspired by the increasing amount of green living blogs. I ultimately want it to become natural with everybody, the same way we take care of our bodies, we should take care of our surroundings. We should create spaces of ideas and sharing. If we choose to have kids, we want them to live in a healthy environment and to not have to for example, deal with environmental externalities that can lead to health issues. Ultimately, it will be about life- breathable air, clean water, edible food, un-compromised quality products.
Nature sustains us, but at the current rate of consumption and mass production, we are being negligent of the limits and potential dangers. Really, do it for the love of nature, not out of the fear of it's potential consequences. That's the source of your strive.
What do you like about it? I chose this lifestyle because I also like the idea of minimalism. I read Vintage Schumacher's book called Small Is Beautiful and I fell in love instantly. It allows me to be selfless (caring, open, giving). He talks about achieving the maximum level of well-being with the least amount of resources. From the environmental movement in the 1980's to Wangari Maathai's- Green Belt Movement, caring for the environment is not exclusive to one place. We all have the ability to; it's about instilling it into our cultures. I like it because it challenges the very often-selfish nature of some humans and allows them to care for something beyond themselves- the earth.
I enjoy making things from scratch, I enjoy being organized and so I don't like much clutter. I like simplicity, and being eco-friendly allows me to explore more ways to live like this. I even applied this lifestyle to my natural hair journey and I follow some blogs on it.
Did you face any challenges?If so, what was/is the biggest obstacle(s)? Honestly, the challenge I face is that I feel constricted by my parents. I currently live with them and since I eat from my mother's grocery shopping list, I don't get to eat what I would love to or buy certain products etc. Although she recycles and advocates healthy eating, I haven't been able to convince her about for example, organic food. Last week I bought organic peanut butter (which is btw, so delicious) and the week after she bought standard store peanut butter. I don't want to fight lifestyles in a home that isn't mine.
Point is, although I love my parents, I need to accept that people have different beliefs on issues, including standpoints on where they stand environmentally. It's a lesson, because now I know what to look for in a life partner. I would love to share the same visions with someone I love as long as we are mutually open to learning from each other. That's the beginning of creating a livable home with bound values.
Any tips/advice for someone looking to be more eco-friendly? Do your research, and find which area of green living you are more passionate about, catches your attention, or suits your circumstances (listed below). It's much easier that way. So for example, if you are into organic eating, eco-friendly products, recycling/composting, keeping papers with blank sides in a bag for second use (I do this), socially responsible products, farmers market shopping, natural product making, barefoot living, non-car driving, natural cosmetics/make-up etc, crafts. There are so many areas in your life that you can apply environmental consciousness to (if not all). And you can see how this is overwhelming, right?
Begin at your comfort and work you way up with ease. Don't be overwhelmed. For example, I cannot afford to buy cosmetic make-up because it's expensive and I cannot shop at the farmers market because the nearest one is a train ride and three buses away. And that's okay
Going green can be complex. This discourages a lot of people. There's really no "right" way it's basically trying to do something than nothing at all. I sometimes feel like a green hypocrite. Do you feel that way sometimes? There is no absolutism in pursuing a green conscious lifestyle. Every little counts, honestly. It's a mental journey as much as it is a physical/lifestyle journey. I don't believe someone can be a "green hypocrite" since we have the free will to live how we want. Pursuing a green lifestyle is not going to be an easy ride and so we have to allow ourselves to diverge and be inconsistent at times. It's nice to set targets and personal goals, but ultimately do what is best for you based on your location in this world, your job, responsibilities, schedules, income, health status, etc.
A green lifestyle is a personal journey that needn't be publicized to everyone, it's between you and nature and therefore you must not over think it. It should be as simple as possible, and not complex. That's all that matters. Always remain conscious, even if you lose the zeal sometimes.
There are no blueprint for green living, just guides. We can all share our different ways of living, exchange information, ideas, tips, etc. but there's no right or wrong, as long as you strive to be better at what you are already doing.
You know I gotta ask, How long have you been natural and how do you keep it so FLY? My last relaxer was in November 2012. I am in love with my homemade shea butter which keeps my hair oh so soft and moisturized. That's my holy grail. It remains in protective styles until I have achieved my goal length. Check me out on YouTube
Is there anything you like to add? Don't give into the climate change hype and the scares that are being portrayed in the media to wake people up. I believe that true internal change begins with love. Simple, love for nature. Love for that which sustains us. Love for that which feeds us and give us breathable air. Love for that which keeps us alive. Don't pursue a green lifestyle out of fear, pursue it out of love for what is to come. You will enjoy the journey much more that way. I don't believe in acting globally, thinking locally- more like, "act local, think global".
Learn more about "greenwashing" to understand how brands are re-inventing themselves so that you won't be deceived.
Be careful about natural hair products that claim to have "no parabens, sulfates, etc. (you know the list) but instead contain other harmful products other than the ones that we are well aware about.
The term "natural" is not regulated but the term organic is. Careful reading of ingredients, labels, and marketing- the use of words such as "green", "fair", or "eco" can be misleading. With this new green consumerism, brands are still not genuine. But be hopeful, there are many genuine green brands that strive to be greener, out there!