mnmlist: step lightly upon this world

Photo courtesy of the sea the sea.

By Leo

There’s a lot we can learn from traditional cultures such as the Native Americans. Including the idea of walking lightly upon this earth.

It’s something we’ve forgotten in hundreds of years of striving to achieve more, to produce more, to build bigger and better things.

We have forgotten to walk lightly, and instead mine the earth of its natural resources, clearcut forests, pollute rivers and lakes and oceans, alter the landscape to fit our needs, make the air dirty and the rain acidic and the ozone holed.

This isn’t news. We’re all aware of the problems, but the solutions are less obvious.

Do I buy greener products? Do I buy a greener car? Do I recycle all the stuff I use?

Well, sure. You can do all of those things, and they are useful. But even better: live a life of less, and walk lighter.

A life of less means you consume less, use fewer natural resources, pollute less, own less stuff, contribute less to greenhouse emissions.

Minimalism, the philosophy of a life of less, is more sustainable because it uses less, and thus recycling isn’t as necessary (though it’s still important). It’s not sustainable to continue to consume huge amounts of products (no matter how green they are) or use natural resources (no matter how organic).

There’s a lot to write about here, and I’ll write more later, but a few brief examples:
  • Buy less stuff. Buying a lot of products is at the heart of this. Read more: Why less stuff is better; Consumerism vs. minimalism; Rethinking necessities.
  • Eat less. Americans as a group eat way too much. It’s not just about the huge amounts of natural resources that go into producing all of that food, although that’s huge (read about the rainforests being clearcut to make grazing room for McDonald’s beef cows, for example). It’s also about the huge wasteful restaurants, from McDonald’s to Chilis to Lone Star, serving ridiculous amounts of fat and salt and sugar laden food (and throwing much of it away), when we could simply eat at home. It’s about all the packaging that goes into all our frozen and processed food. It’s about the health problems that arise from eating so much unhealthy food, and the wasted resources that go into caring for all our diseased people, too fat from all the eating.
  • Eat less meat. Meat is not sustainable. Most of the crops we grow go to feeding animals raised for food or dairy or eggs. If we stopped eating so much meat, we would use fewer resources and could feed more people.
  • Use less packaging. It’s insane how much packaging is used in all the products we buy. Unfortunately, there isn’t much choice when you want to buy something. Choose products with less packaging when you do have a choice. I think the public demanding less packaging will get manufacturers to change this wasteful practice.
  • Drive less. Walk more. Start cycling. Use mass transit. Carpool. Consolidate trips. Stay home sometimes.
  • Have a smaller house. Have less stuff, and you need less space. Big houses are wasteful, not only in the resources they take to build, but in cooling and heating and maintaining.
Again, just a few examples. It’s really a mindset, not a laundry list of things to do.
“Walk lightly in the spring; Mother Earth is pregnant.” - Native American (Kiowa) proverb