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THE PRESSURES OF BEING GREEN

Ask yourself this question: Is the state of the environment - both locally and globally important to you? Odds are you'll say "yes" - at least according to statistics. Research shows that over 65% of people polled were concerned about the environment yet, less than 30% actually took steps to make a difference. Hmmm….that 35% gap should concern all of us. Let's take a look at why more people aren't taking action.

Over the years I've been asked a lot of questions regarding sustainable living. But the #1 question is "Where do I start on the path to a greener lifestyle?" My answer? Anywhere you want. Lots of experts will tell you to throw out everything in your cleaning closet that isn't natural, clean your refrigerator of non-organic items and get rid of every piece of plastic you own. Some will even do their darndest to shame you for not being green. Well, I say shame on them. Until they walk in your shoes, no one knows what goes on in your life and the challenges you face.

Sometimes life has other plans for us - we work hard trying to make the mortgage, keeping kids clothed and fed and just getting through the day. The concept of becoming sustainable just seems too daunting; taking too much time and energy that we don't have. And a lot of times, people just don't know what about the environment they should be concerned about or how it affects them personally.

In my case, I stumbled upon my path to living green (as is the case with most things - I'm a klutz). Before my big "ta-da" moment I was like a lot of people - I shopped at big chain stores buying chemical laden cleaners and home care products and recycled only aluminum cans - maybe. What was my "ta-da" moment? Panic attacks and how to deal with them. It had nothing to do with the environment. Long story short, essential oils saved my sanity. My ensuing passion took me on a journey that I am still enjoying today. But it all began with one simple step - sniffing a bottle of Vetiver essential oil to calm my fried adrenal system. My eyes were opened to alternatives and I was receptive to learning more.

Once I discovered the benefits, facts and ease of "going green" I wanted to shout from my soap box to the world "look what you're doing to yourself - your poisoning yourself, your children and the planet"! But, I soon learned that taking that approach wasn't going to get me very far. People just turned a deaf ear and looked at me as though I was nuts. So, after lots of thinking and soul searching with my ever patient husband, it became quite clear. Every one of us has our own path and each of us determines where that path starts and ends. It's taken years to create my path and I'm still forging ahead through new areas.

Here's a tip. K-I-S-S (Keep It Simple Silly). Choose an area of concern for you and start there. For many people, there's an event that brings the urge to create a greener home to the forefront. Perhaps it's a health issue or the birth of a child. Fortunately you don't have to wait for a life altering event to get started, because becoming greener is relatively easy. And when you're ready, creating your own path is simple - you determine your starting point. Pinpoint your priorities - is it creating a healthy environment, saving money, combating allergies, reducing toxins, or protecting little ones? Each and every one of us has things that are at the top of our priority list. Figure out what that priority is and start taking the steps necessary to address it. Begin with baby steps.

Being 'green' doesn't have to be an extreme - there are varying degrees so find your comfort level. But do let me point something out - there is something quite refreshing about living simply. The freedom from "stuff" and a feeling of calm ensues when using items or materials that nature created or that are recycled. But the simple everyday things like utilizing your recycling can (which, by the way, can potentially lower your trash bill considerably), opting for biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners, choosing glass over plastic when appropriate and requesting environmentally friendly building materials when building or remodeling can make a big impact. Living a more sustainable life simply means staying true to your values. Stop and think before you buy or consume. With a small shift in thinking, you'd be amazed at the difference it can make - everything from saving money and reducing trash to removing toxins from your home creating a safer, healthier environment. But, whatever you do, don't let the idea of being environmentally responsible become daunting. It isn't.

Don't let die-hard greenies shame you into feeling like you're not doing anything. But at the same time, cut them some slack; they're passionate. You may find that you have a passion for being green too. Just begin your path where you feel comfortable and take it as far as you want to go. Set up camp and enjoy the scenery. When you're ready to go further, get back on the path and go.

Happy Fall!


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