Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Revolution

For Christmas this year my daughter got me David Suzuki’s Green Guide. Although it details the catastrophic impact we have on our planet, it wasn’t at all paralyzing. In fact, David Suzuki outlines meaningful actions that we can take to change our relationship to agriculture, transportation, energy use, and politics. I am definitely going to be referring back to various sections to slowly change my awareness and habits. There are so many possibilities, from simple to more challenging. It is empowering. Suzuki also includes references for further research (books, documentaries and websites). Here is one of many lists he suggests:

12 Guiding Principles of Sustainable Consumption

  1. Remember the big picture. Spend less time worrying about plastic bags and disposable cups and more time thinking about where you live, energy use in your home, how often and how far you drive (and fly), and what you eat.

  2. Don’t buy stuff that you don’t need. Among the three environmental commandments—reduce, reuse, and recycle—reduce is by far the most important.

  3. Make food, not waste. Before you buy something, think ahead to when you’ll stop using it. Every product, when you’re finished with it, should be food for either the biological economy (readily biodegradable materials) or the industrial economy (recyclable or reusable raw materials for new products).

  4. Buy local. The closer to home a product is grown, built, or made, generally the lower transportation costs associated with pollution.

  5. Go for quality, not quantity. Select durable products and maximize their reuse through regular maintenance and care.

  6. Support renewable energy. Seek out products and businesses that rely on wind, solar, geothermal, or other renewable sources of power.

  7. Make healthy choices. Avoid purchasing or using toxic and hazardous products.

  8. Look for a high proportion of recycled content. To fulfill the promise of recycling requires people to purchase recycled products.

  9. Demand better options…. The more people vote for environmentally informed candidates, speak up on behalf of innovative green solutions, and push for change, the sooner the shift towards a sustainable future will come about.

Among the many suggestions, there were only a couple things that didn’t vibe with me. I don’t agree with Suzuki’s recommendation to eat highly processed soy products for regular meat substitutes, and I don’t agree that we should use compact fluorescent lights. Here’s an article a friend of mine wrote on CFLs, and another on a more healthful alternative—incandescent lights. David Suzuki is human and has his own perceptual lense. He is a scientist and a modern man. I would prefer more back to basics ideas, but that is my perceptual lense. So despite the fact that I don’t agree with everything he says, I do sense that David Suzuki truly loves the natural world. He has integrity, and I trust him.

Today I signed up for his Nature Challenge. He sends a weekly e-newsletter, suggesting things you can do. Check out his website. If your library doesn’t have his book, request it. And if you just can’t get it, his website is very informative. It is largely addressed to his fellow Canadians, but the principles are universal.

And what’s more universal than time? I appreciate that Suzuki addresses our busy lifestyles. He says, “If you’re time-poor because of work or other obligations, then you’re much more likely to drive than cycle or take transit, more likely to eat fast food or junk food than prepare a healthy meal, and more likely to buy inefficient or potentially toxic products (because you lack the time to do any research). When people are time poor, they have less time to spend on the activities that create happiness, such as socializing with friends, pursuing hobbies, and engaging with their communities.” This, in itself, is revolutionary. And we homeschoolers are leaders in that front. We have time to figure out our relationships with ourselves, each other, the environment, and the spirit.

While I ardently believe in homeschooling as a revolutionary act, I have been pretty loose with my ideals and my homeschooling this year. I want to start working towards health again. So, while I don’t normally have New Year's resolutions, I really need to reassess my life and clarify my intentions. But I felt like the list in my head kept growing and growing. I’m so far from who I want to be! How did this happen?! I was feeling a lot of anxiety as the New Year approached. When I actually wrote my list down, however, it wasn’t so long. And, in fact, it was basically in line with what Suzuki says above, a wish to spend time on activities that create happiness, such as socializing with friends, pursuing hobbies, and engaging with my community.

This is my New Year’s wish to all of you.


  1. Well, crummy, Jenell. I just bought the CFLs finally and now I feel like I need to get rid of them! What do you suggest?


  2. Great post! It feels good to know that we have already been doing what he lists. I have been on the edge of the lightbulb issue though - my husband and I are not in agreement on them so it's time to send him more articles. lol

    I really like Steiner's "Knowledge of Higher Worlds" for getting in the right frame of mind. He really gets to the heart f what is essential and inessential, as well as, the constant process of self-assessment. I try to read it each year. There are many other lectures and books of his that I like for this but this one stands out the most in my mind.


  3. Lisa, the lightbulb and mercury are like bread and butter at the moment. But it sounds like the U.S. Congress will be phasing out incandescents (as they are) by 2012. I don't know what I'd do. I haven't bought the CFLs yet. But for sure, look into how to dispose of them--and be VERY careful not to break them. Here's an older article from the N.Y. Times:

  4. Lovey, I have been thinking about reading that again--well, at least the Six Basic Exercises. I'm glad that you mentioned it. Sometimes I need the universe to scream at me before I DO something!

  5. Much of what I have heard here, I've heard in my own thoughts, as well.
    And I'm certainly all about creating happiness this year - mine starting deep, at the point of connecting with Mindfulness.
    So my intention is "Still" this year. :)
    Broad enough to include all sorts of delicious things! :)

  6. Mmm, yep, me, too, Stephanie. I usually get really anxious about all I want to do. Then I make The List. And that's when I realize that I've gotten spun too far out into the future. And back to Mindfulness once again. And even though it is being present in the moment, there is a natural expansiveness to it--a breathing.

  7. Wow - I was impressed to hear that you read Suzuki's book...he is a bit of a celeb/legend here in Canada. I was also relieved to hear the same things resonate with you as with my family regarding his philosophies. I applaud where he is coming from, but he is far too in bed with government & industry here for my comfort level. The CFLs and the soy is a good example...thanks for the review!

  8. Great info! Sounds like a good book. Love the part about being time- poor and the effect that has on our lives. Makes me so thankful to be at home with my boy and soon with the next.

  9. thanks for sharing...i'm thinking about it all now.

  10. Leilani, Artistmama and jodi...I appreciate your kind words. You all keep me growing. :)