This Sustainable Life

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236: My environmental role models

Ep. 236

Here is the text I read from for this post:


My environmental role models

Why my role models? Because people keep saying what I do is inaccessible. That it's too much or extreme. That they need to balance. Well everyone believes they're balanced. I have to balance too.

My difference is that I keep moving toward my values. Instead of letting Americans, the most polluting people in history, be my comparison, I find new role models.

It's community. Once you start polluting less, actually putting effort in, not just straws or the latest trendy thing, but based on your passion, you'll find role models and keep doing more to live by your values because you'll like it.


Bea Johnson

  • Author of Zero Waste Home, which I read and recommend as well as 4 TEDx talks
  • Family of four, less than a load per year
  • My response to everyone who knee-jerk responds, "Oh, you don't have kids. If you had kids then you'd understand." Well, she has two kids and avoiding garbage brings them together, as it will everyone who tries instead of claiming helplessness.
  • Her book on zero-waste living led me to find new waste to get rid of, including cutting down on mailings. Emailing and calling places to remove me from their lists is satisfying and returns control.
  • Her TEDx talk on why we should recycle less is the first big public statement I know of to avoid recycling as much as possible in favor of not polluting, since recycling is polluting unnecessarily. Of course all living requires polluting, but recycling is closer to full waster than to benign.
  • Her clean home and family camaraderie inspire me.
  • She's been a guest on this podcast and we email periodically.

Kris De Berger

  • His site called Low Tech magazine inspires simple living minimizing relying on fossil fuels.
  • He shows what is possible, especially what we used to do, often easily, that we then replaced with fossil fuels, like how to move 100 ton blocks of stone, growing plants before greenhouses, and many fun things we've traded for a sedentary, polluting lifestyle.
  • You know how it took decades for people to realize building roads created traffic, not relieved it? He finds similar patterns, like how our push for energy security is making us less secure and increasing efficiency often leads to greater total waste.
  • He does what he talks about. For example, he runs a solar-powered server, he installed a shower that uses a fraction of a regular shower.
  • He shows a low energy future is possible and desirable.
  • I invited him to be on the podcast but haven't heard back.

Lauren Singer

  • Did a TEDx talk, probably the first I saw of all the people's here so inspired me early
  • She also cites Bea Johnson as a role model
  • She was the first person I'd heard of creating a mason jar of landfill waste per year, which enables me not to compare myself with Americans on my waste, which is meaningless because they are about the most trash producing in history
  • She went to NYU and students of mine knew her or were connected. I forget the details.
  • I invited her as a guest, but we haven't finished coordinating
  • She started a store for products that replace disposable stuff. I've met a couple employees from the time I cooked for 50 people in Brooklyn North Farms with almost nothing to throw away after

Rob Greenfield

  • His YouTube channel is the best source of his work. Reminds me of Morgan
  • Spurlock of Supersize Me.
  • Rob is nearing the end of a year eating only food he grew or foraged.
  • He did a lot of attention-getting stunts to call attention to our culture's waste. This project shows a level of maturity that suggests significantly more to come.
  • He rides his bike a lot. I've considered moving to Orlando to participate, especially when I interviewed Orlando's mayor for this podcast.
  • He's been a guest on this podcast and we email periodically.

David Gardner

  • Host of the GrowthBusters podcast
  • Besides running for office, he's one of the only people I know to promote reducing the population
  • It's his passion. He's taking on one of our biggest taboos, or sacred cows, which is also the most necessary change necessary to pull out of our mess.
  • It also may be the most misunderstood or overlooked part of our environmental problems.
  • People just assume because the population is increasing less -- not decreasing -- that things will work out. All relevant signs I know of say we're over the carrying capacity already, making collapse imminent.
  • He's been a guest on this podcast and we email periodically. I've been on his too.

My mom and sister

For food and gardening


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