Did you know that most modern hunter-gatherers spend only 20 or so hours a week working? The Zhun people of Africa, for example, spend most of their time hanging out, socializing and generally enjoying life, while those of us running the rat race in industrialized nations work an average of 44 hours a week. Granted, it’s an extreme, but it does make you think about how living a sustainable or “green” life can be more fulfilling. While you might not want to drop your job and ditch your family to join a nomadic tribe, there are other ways to incorporate green practices into the life you lead. Try these tips to give yourself a dose of green and re-energize your life from the inside out.
From pink slime to pesticides, there’s some scary stuff lurking in the food we eat. What’s the best way to ensure that your food is full of nutrients instead of chemical sludge? Grow it yourself! Not only will you save hundreds of dollars on groceries every year, you’ll also get time to recharge and reconnect with nature. You might even find yourself getting inspired. Take it from Etta Britt, a blues music recording artist who just released her first solo album on Wrinkled Records. A musician’s life is a busy one, but Etta still finds time to manage and enjoy her family’s farm.
“Working on my farm is one of the most relaxing things I do,” Etta says. “There’s nothing better than going out and planting a garden or flowers, working with my roses, cutting fresh herbs to cook with or just sitting on my porch and enjoying a sudden, cool breeze in 85-degree weather. Almost every day, I head out to the chicken coop to see my baby chicks, and I sing to them. Or I visit with Mater the donkey, or Cowboy and Warrior, the two horses on our farm. A stroll around the property with my dogs and cats brings on inspiration for songs.”
Not all of us have space for livestock, but do what you can with the space you have. Even planting a few potted herbs on your apartment balcony is a step in the right direction.
The Whole Picture
If your great-great-great grandmother took a look at your lunchbox, would she recognize a single thing inside? If you answered no, you’re not alone. Most of us eat more from the factory than we do from the farm, and the more processed our foods are, the less true fuel they contain. It’s the equivalent of filling your car with used fry grease instead of motor oil – it might seem to do the job for a few miles, but sooner or later you’ll regret it. Taking a hint from Etta Britt and growing your own produce is a cost-effective way to improve your diet, but what else can you do?
When you go to the store, buy whole foods. What exactly are whole foods? You know those chicken nuggets that are pressed into dinosaur shapes? Whole foods are the opposite of that. In short, they’re foods that haven’t been processed. Stack your diet with things like fresh fruit and veggies, nuts and organic eggs and meats. You’ll be amazed at how much better your body runs when you fill it with real, usable energy and nutrients. And don’t forget that your brain is, of course, a part of your body. Feed it right and you’ll see improvements in your energy levels, your sleep, your mood and even your love life.
Ever wonder why charity organizers and Girl Scout leaders smile so much? That happy feeling begins with the knowledge that they’re making a difference. They smile, and then others then smile back at them, and on it goes. You might not have the wherewithal to host a public radio pledge drive or spend a weekend in the woods with a pack of tweens, but you can score some good karma by greening up and wasting less. One of the easiest ways to do this is to invest in a few reusable shopping bags. You can also shop at local farmers markets and select foods that aren’t cocooned in a metric ton of plastic. Your small choices can make a big difference for the planet – and for your peace of mind.
When you’re living in an industrialized nation, it’s not easy being green. And as tempting as it might seem, flouncing off to South America to start a new life in the jungle isn’t always an option. But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to a stressful and unsustainable life. Make a change today. Start small. Take a single small step, then take another and another. Before you know it, you’ll be reaping the restorative rewards green living has to offer.
Nic Pennington Smyth is a freelancer from Pittsburgh. When he’s not writing, he enjoys fly fishing, backpacking and blues music.
Photo credit: ‘Green‘ by Big Stock