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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5/22/2022

583: Growthbusters called me extreme, so I responded

Ep. 583
The notes I read from for this episode:“Lead by example”. I’m not leading by example.“Extreme” implies values, as does “middle ground” and “balance.” Everyone is extreme by someone else’s views.Everyone I talk to says they are balancing, that extreme is too much. What are you balancing with if one side is sustainability? How can the answer be anything but growth and unsustainability? People will say family, work, making money, but it doesn’t change that they are fueling growth and driving a system we are trying to change. Nobody said changing systems is easy, but systemic change begins with personal change.Our greatest challenge is not finding theoretical solutions on degrowth.If we want others to live by values like sustainability and stewardship, how can we influence them if we live by the excuses they do? If they hear us live by growth, why shouldn’t they? What’s the difference?Every person who resist degrowth agrees they prefer clean air, land, food, and water to polluted and nearly all say they have to balance, not be extreme.I would only ask this challenging a question if I had discovered that every step toward sustainability, while often hard at first, improved my life.When I hear someone say I’m extreme, it sounds like calling a parent who changes their child’s diaper extreme.If you own a pet or garden, you’ve changed your life more than I have.“It’s okay for Lloyd to set an example of living a 1.5 degree lifestyle that many many people aren’t close to.” My point isn’t the logistics of how to do it, but our values and character. No one raises their kid halfway. We do it out of love, passion, joy, fun, and all sorts of reward, no matter how much poop, vomit, injuries.My goal is to help people live by values of stewardship and freedom our culture has led us to suppress so much we think we should balance them with dishwashers and flying to vacation.If you want to experience the world, get rid of your bucket list. If you want to love your family, don’t fly to visit them rarely.I don’t want to sound like I’m pushing too hard on them. On the contrary, I believe that all of us, when we switch cultures, will wish we had earlier. I feel like I’m suggesting to a parent who abuses their child that they’ll prefer not abusing it? I don’t want to suggest nature or Earth are human children, but we sure are abusing them.When you pursue sustainability enough, you go through many transitions. One big one is from thinking of yourself first,.If I sound uncompromising, it’s because nature is uncompromising. Too many people measure their sustainability action by how much they feel like they tried. That’s why they say it’s so hard, so that every little bit counts for a lot. But two things. One, nature doesn’t respond to your feelings, it responds to your actions.Two, it’s not hard! It only looks hard until you commit and sweat the withdrawal.Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.The Growthbusters podcastThe Growthbusters documentary