Talking Trash with Beth*
I met Beth last week at Zumi’s, a lively café in Ipswich, MA., owned by sustainable practitioner, Umesh. Beth, who lives in Salem, was one of our first website subscriber’s a year ago, when we founded TerraBluTeams.org.
In her late twenties, a wife, mother and graduate student, Beth proclaims herself a sustainability “beginner” because her upbringing was not very “eco-conscious”. Beth’s passion for a sustainable lifestyle was inspired by her first trip at age 21 after graduation from Gordon College to “wwoof”. This adventure allows volunteers a hands-on opportunity to live/work on an organic farm, either in the USA or abroad.
It was Beth’s first trip alone, outside the USA, to a strange land to meet new people and learn about sustainable living. When Beth arrived in New Zealand at her chosen organic farm, four hours outside Auckland, she was immediately put to work in organic food and wine production. She had never worked on a farm and found it thrilling.
During her five month stay Beth learned hay bale home construction and spent weeks building retaining walls for future vineyards as well as many other projects on nearby farms. The experience was exotic and beautiful. It planted the seed that changed her life.
When she returned, her first big sustainable decision was to become a vegetarian; reducing her environmental footprint immediately by 70%. While her friends are called to other causes, Beth feels she is “called” to live life through the sustainability lens of social responsibility.
Beth defines a sustainable lifestyle as follows: contributing as much to the creation of resources as you are consuming. Whether that is economically, environmentally, socially or culturally. She says, “I try not to overstep the bounds of my use while making smart choices that don’t succumb to trendy product consumption with a short obsolescence life”. She also states, “I believe all of us are created equal and should have equal opportunities to eat, be healthy, educated and free”.
Seven years later, she practices all her “R’s” (reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose, respect, rethink, and restore) and pursues greater depths and new practices every week.
Beth suggests, as a beginner, we not become overwhelmed and paralyzed with analysis of the impact and source of everything we own, buy and use. “Start with small changes, don’t think its all or nothing, no absolutes. Start with the four R’s, at least. Get in touch with nature. Engage others, have fun. Gain confidence, build, save money and then move engagement beyond your friends and family.”
She feels her greatest challenge in the near future is her and her husband’s commute and choice of home. Beth says, “My ideal home would be a home with two families, a single person, young or old; a student, we’d form a small community to exchange ideas and work together. A community that had your back.” A grin comes across her face, her eyes light up and one can see she takes joy in sustainable practices knowing they save money, save resources, connect community with nature and save the planet for her children and her children’s children.
Beth would love to engage the world with her passion about sustainability and we look forward to hearing from her in the future. You can check out Beth’s progress on her own blog, All Growing Up, where she expounds on the challenges, rewards and creative experiences of her own personal journey to a sustainable lifestyle.
* This is the first of our 2013 biweekly interviews with sustainability practitioners, young and mature, beginners and experts. We will discover the challenges and experiences in pursuit of a sustainable lifestyle. On some occasions this will be filmed, photographed and bi-monthly broadcasted on our local community cable channel.