This has been a crazy 12 months. While we all collectively lived through the ongoing COVID pandemic, the additional life changes I personally experienced were changing my career trajectory (hello to everyone in the information world!), starting a new job, buying and moving into my first property, and now awaiting the birth of my first child this month. When nothing in life feels ‘normal’, how does one keep up with sustainable living in a society that doesn’t necessarily treat such choices as status quo? I’ve hardly been a stellar example of environmentally friendly living during this state of flux, but with reflection I’d like to share what has been working for me.
- Review and keep up habits
When things are always changing, it is helpful to see what you can keep the same. The pandemic meant vendors didn’t accept containers, but I could make my morning cuppa before leaving the house. Facebook Marketplace is still a treasure trove of second-hand goods, so I’ve used it to buy for both new home and bub. I’ve also kept up community composting by finding my new local down the road.
- Take advantage of new possibilities
Change can also offer opportunities for new habits to form. When I was at my most sickly during pregnancy, I always left the house with snacks in my bag – a habit I’m sure will continue as I transition to mum mode. I’ve now moved to an area more connected to public transport. I can therefore avoid expensive hospital parking for my obstetric appointments, but also feel satisfied with a more carbon-friendly method of travel. When moving, we used recycled boxes from my husband’s workplace (although there are reusable moving box services available). We also wrapped fragiles in butcher’s paper, which I am now reusing as drawer and bird cage liners.
- Be kind to yourself
When life is crazy, something’s gotta give, lest one go mad with frustration or exhaustion. When pregnancy caused weird changes to my appetite and energy levels, I accepted that keeping up my mostly plant-based diet was difficult. My food may have become more carbon-intensive, but that meant helping my baby and body function as best as possible. Despite my new job being accessible through public transport, when it became a choice of a 25-minute drive versus an hour-long commute that triggered pregnancy symptoms of motion sickness and fatigue, you can bet I chose the drive.
Remember: sustainability is about living kindly for both our future and our present. We all have different needs in our unique lifestyles, for which there are always new ways of doing things more sustainably. It’s our collective efforts that keep us progressing towards more carbon-neutral community. As long as we are honest with ourselves and mindful about what challenges or opportunities present themselves, making long-term positive impacts is possible
What has changed for you in this last year? How have you faced those changes when it comes to sustainable life choices?
By Katherine Gehrke, ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group committee member