August marked the one-year anniversary of my life-altering semester abroad, and I’m excited to admit that simplicity still permeates my daily routine. I’m maturing and growing and adapting to life as a college graduate, all the while fighting to maintain the values I so carefully developed last fall.
To my surprise, my peers have taken notice, continually seeking to understand the root of what makes me, me. “Is this brand, you know, ethical?” they ask, and “Would you eat tomatoes from this company?”
When I arrived in Boston, Massachusetts to begin life as a young professional, my co-workers immediately picked up on my pursuit of a sustainable diet, boldly asking for suggestions and recommendations. Though honored, their interest in my way of life led me to wonder: as a closet hippie, how can I best influence those around me? Can my model of simplicity truly make a difference?
I’m convinced it can. The “green push” has, by all accounts, become a nationwide movement, drawing supporters from all ends of the earth who function from vastly different perspectives. These “greenies” seem to continually spread the same message: if we don’t become vegetarians, install solar panels on our roofs and ride bikes to work, the planet on which we live will deteriorate forever. I’m not one to disagree with this statement, though I am one to disagree with this approach.
You see, when we bombard our neighbors with personal opinion, we work to segregate the passionate from the unaware. Becoming a societal outcast does little to attract others to a lifestyle that, at its core, benefits both our planet and our citizens, enabling us look beyond our current context. Relatability leads to interest, interest leads to understanding and understanding leads to change.
So, as a closet hippie, how can I truly benefit those around me? How can I humbly educate those who contribute to our country’s overwhelming waste issue, infatuation with fast food and tendency to over-consume? By living my life as simply as possible while still keeping both feet in the world of the less-educated. Do I compost and shop at farmer’s markets and try to buy from socially-responsible brands?
But I try to let my actions speak truth instead of my t-shirt, enabling my neighbors to keep me accountable. I want to make a difference, but I do not want to overwhelm; I want to be a source of truth, but I do not want to become an outcast; I want to be appreciated, but not overlooked. In this troubled world, I want to mix the passionate with the unaware, working to make my community a sustainable community.
“We cannot hope to create a sustainable culture with any but sustainable souls.” (Derrick Jensen)