Updated: Apr 11, 2019
If you follow me on Instagram you have likely noticed that for the past year or so my photography has shared the spotlight with my 'eco' posts. It isn't a new interest, just a new action. I have always felt a pull towards nature and have had concern for our environment for as long as I can remember. Here's a fun memory: When I was 12, my mom drove us to her friend's new house, and I refused to get out of our minivan and go inside because I knew that the subdivision was built on land that was previously farmland. Probably a bit dramatic, but it made me sad to see someone's farm converted into a mini Stepford!
For most of my life I kept my feelings and fears bottled up because I thought no one understood or cared. Aside from my mom's at-home recycling efforts, I never really saw or heard of anyone making any effort to lead a more sustainable life or caring for the natural world. My friends made fun of me (lightly) for recycling, and I definitely didn't dare talk about global warming or try and have conversations about the environmental changes I saw happening everywhere I went. I didn't feel like there was a community out there for me or that it was even OK talk about my concerns. Admittedly, I didn't look very hard either. I felt daunted by the scale of the problems I heard about and saw on a daily basis and felt that there was no way I could do anything that would actually matter.
The first time I ever noticed sustainability efforts on a large scale was in 2013 when I studied abroad in Costa Rica. Ticos were making impressive efforts to have a lesser impact on nature, and as a community they seemed to care about the natural world. Perhaps it is because they are surrounded by such natural beauty and abundance that they care so much about the human impact. Rainforests, cloud forests, arid climates, tropical climates, mountains, beaches, you name it, that tiny country has it. Although, really, natural beauty is everywhere. It's just our perception of what 'beautiful' is that varies.
I took note of what Costa Ricans were doing, but I still didn't really take action myself at that point. It wasn't until we moved to the countryside last year that my wheels really started turning. We live in such a beautiful rural area, but developments and residential subdivisions seem to multiply like rabbits in northeastern Kansas, so I am concerned about how long this area will be countryside before urban sprawl swallows our land like it has so many other open spaces over the decades. I notice new developments everywhere I go. I worry about habitat loss and flooding due to permeable surfaces (vegetation) being torn up left and right to be replaced by concrete. Sometimes it's hard to enjoy driving from my house to town anymore because all I see are new builds.
A few months ago, I got to the point where I completely fixated on the land development I saw happening everywhere, and I began feeling anxiety every time I left the house. I knew I had to deal with my feelings rather than let them fester because my outlook on life was becoming increasingly negative. So I started turning my worry into something more productive - action. I started getting involved locally, on social media, and in my own daily life. So far, it has helped me tame my frustration and anxiety, which I finally realized wasn't helping me or the planet.
Taking action does not come easy for me. I tend to think I am a dreamer more than I am a doer. Things usually sound better to me in theory than they do in real life, so when it comes to putting my ideas into action, my brain really tries to put on the brakes. This is especially the case when something is difficult or brand new to me. I have a mean little inner voice that tells me I can't do it and I don't know what I'm doing. However, when it comes to making better personal choices for the planet and helping others to do the same, I am finding that I am more motivated and dedicated to this single idea than I usually am to other things. I think the key to success here is taking it little by little, rather than trying to change your whole life in one go all in one day. We are creatures of habit and it can be damn hard to change those habits. So be kind to yourself, and start changing your mindset and daily habits one step at a time.
My impulse is to lock up and seclude myself because it's easier to live a sustainable lifestyle alone than to step outside of my bubble and see the sad reality of the way nature is assaulted on a daily basis. But, I know that my actions alone will not help a single thing. There are eight billion other people on this planet, and it takes all of us working together to make change on a large scale. I know that I need to speak up and share my practices to help others change the way they live and think, too.
For the love of nature, I want to make it very easy and accessible for you to live a more mindful and eco-conscious life by doing simple things like using less single-use plastic, supporting sustainable and ethical brands, and keeping nature in mind. Because nature is life. Every day there are more companies, products, and people making it easier to make better choices. With this blog, my goal is to make these options highly visible to you so that switching to sustainable products and a sustainable way of life is the easiest and most rewarding thing you have ever done. And, I hope to inspire an appreciation of nature and our beautiful and powerful Earth along the way!
“Be the change you wish to see in this world.” -Gandhi