In the permaculture class I'm taking, a reoccuring idea is to produce more positive than negative effects. For example, farming in a conventional way tends to use lots of pesticides, tilling which increases soil erosion, and fossil fuels. Using permaculture principles, you could build a pond near your garden (so you could recharge the aquifer and wouldn't have to water it as much), plant crops that complement each other and have beneficial effects, and use compost from kitchen scraps instead of buying fertilizer. I think this is a great permaculture example. Now how do I apply this idea to my whole life?
Since I was a little kid, I realized that as long as I was a human in western culture, I would probably be using way more resources than I would be putting back. Sure, I try to reduce my ecological footprint as much as possible, but let's face it: I live in a typical apartment, I work at a regular job, I don't eat as much local/organic food from a farmers market as I would like, and whether I like it or not, I am a part of mainstream culture. Sometimes I drive my car. Sometimes I eat meat. Sometimes I go on airplanes to faraway locations. I can justify this to myself all I want: sometimes taking a bus to a rural location is not practical, sometimes eating meat is good for my diet, and sometimes I just like to go on vacations to exotic places.
Sometimes I want to go all out: become a vegan, transform my car into some kind of combination biodiesel/mobile organic farm, stop using electricity, only take transportation that requries me to self-propel. A student in my class this semester asked me: Shona, since you believe so strongly in climate change, how can you keep living a normal life? Why don't you go off the grid and become totally self sufficient?
I responded by saying that I'm an environmental science educator, so living in the woods by myself somewhere is not condusive to helping other people understand why our society needs to transform into something more sustainable. I think that's only part of the answer, and I'm still working the rest out.
My hope is that my actions and projects can contribute to my postive impacts. I may not be able to reduce my ecological footprint entirely now, but I can try to teach others and hopefully spark a chain of events that will somehow offset my impact. Maybe this is just me trying to justify my presence on earth, but it is my hope.
I'm an eco-conscious girl from Montreal, Quebec. I'm currently an adjunct science professor at Champlain College of Vermont (Montreal Campus). I'm interested in any opportunities to expand my experience with grassroots activism, climate change legislation, or environmental education.