SUSTAINABLE LIFE BY KARA NAYDYHOR
I never like to start with a story, I like to set the mood, provide the nuance and perspective right up front. So, allow me to deliver the punch line right away….you are in a union with creation, I hope this phrase both inspires you and gives a tiny shiver of fear….because we as an American culture keep committing the ultimate ego sin, that we are above our choices, we are beyond our abundance, that we are connected only in the ways in which we approve. Because I have embraced that I am in union with creation, I am beginning to understand the sheer magnitude of the ripples caused by my lifestyle, my food system conveniences, and financial priorities. That one phrase “in a union with creation” has changed the trajectory of my life, I am now firmly on the path of sustainable living, sustainable food culture, sustainable fashion, sustainable economy. Because prior to becoming a mother, well frankly, I was a mindless consumer at the mercy of marketing tag lines, feel good propaganda, self-righteous criticism….now I am a full-blown skeptic that will not outsource the acquiring of knowledge to anyone or entity. THAT in my opinion is the first step to sustainable living, become a skeptic, question everything, turn that curiosity all the way up. There is no need to go out and buy a compost bin, or go green, or whatever else is the latest hot thing….sustainable living is a series of small decisions based on your own research towards your sustainability goals.
Soooooo now let me tell you a story, I became a mother to 28 week premie twins that spent 3 months in NICU after trying to conceive for over 5 years, they are my miracles….there was a moment that changed me fundamentally, it was towards the end of our NICU time, the nurses and lactation specialist were helping me “teach” the twins to breastfeed (which is just about the hardest thing for premies) and Gusto would always tense up while latching, the nurses swooped in to help me because Noor was already feeding, but I very clearly and softly said “no, give him a moment, he will settle in”. And he did! He latched, he relaxed, he started feeding! The nurses turned to me and smiled, “mother knows best”…in that moment I became the leader of our group, I stepped into my power, my intuition…I simply knew what my twins needed and once I took over, that momentum has not stopped. I suddenly applied this to all aspects of our lives, the more I learned, the more I realized the current that is carrying me along in the form of society norms wasn’t what is best for me or my family…and I became an even bigger weirdo😉 Well, because I was able to provide all the breast milk for both twins (as well as another premie baby I just happened to adopt while in NICU due to being born to a teenage mother addicted to drugs, and the adoptive parents couldn’t afford milk bank stock, I happily handed over my liquid gold to that beautiful baby boy Zane!) the Neonatologists had to convince me that the twins needed supplemental iron and a few other minerals that were missing…the can of formula they handed me as the option in the US had sugar in 3 different forms as the first 3 ingredients….ahhhh hell no! In researching actual healthy formula, I was led to the terrain and conditions cow's are raised, I discovered Europe has these amazing standards to be "Vert" certified, that not only is someone a cow farmer/milk producer, one must be a soil farmer. These standards understood that if the soil is poisoned then the grass is poisoned, if the grass is poisoned then the cow is poisoned, if the cow is poisoned then the milk is poisoned....ok mind blown for seeing the true full picture of regenerative farming, food production, and environmental impact! That is my origin story for going full blast through a series of small, consistent, and relentless steps towards sustainable living. This journey has now brought me to sustainable fashion, in the same ways that good milk producers are really just soil farmers, sustainable fashion is showing me that beautiful clothes are people. The people who create the idea, the people who sew those ideas, the people who stock those creations, the people are the foundation and producing beautiful clothes but not paying a livable wage or exploiting labor...well that is not a union I wish to be a part of. I didn't get this overnight, I am still on this journey...learning and changing, but dang I have come a long ways towards elevating and amplifying good brands that support fair labor, that treat people right, that use nontoxic materials, that reduce/reuse/recycle where possible, that don't overproduce, that make the harder choice in putting people first in a world that despite what the cool hashtags, corporate green washing marketing, or influencers "say", their actions and buying habits absolutely demonstrate to the contrary.
Now if you are asking for my thoughts on what are the biggest impacts that move towards a more sustainable living, its food and goods. Growing what food you can and getting to know your local farmers are quick and easy changes that make big reductions in destructive corporate farming practices and the people as well as ecology exploited in that toxic system. Now goods are waaaaayyyy more complicated and vast, so I say start with something that you are obsessed with, for example if you are into cooking...well then, dang it upgrade that toxic nonstick pan to cast iron or stainless steel from a local maker or let's say you refuse to leave the house without nail polish on...yep research polish without toxic by-product and endocrine disrupter ingredients. And finally, to my personal favorite "good", FASHUUUUUNNNNNN! Knowing WHO makes your clothes, how they were produced, the conditions in which the brand operates, the material used are all great questions to start asking of anything you buy to adorn your beautiful body and those of your family. And be ready to go on a walkabout, because let me tell you, you will be shocked by some of the answers to these questions of more than a few of the brands each of us have hanging in our closets. That is why I'm continually sharing the stories behind the brands I post about, the humans personally, not just what the brand advertises, but the energy and spirit of the human behind the designs. Now that I am reading this, I'm experiencing another revelation....at the root of this essay is CONNECTION TO and WITH PEOPLE! We outsource so much of our lives with each convenience and time saver decision, we naturally become disconnected with people, and all you are left with are the co-worker, family and friend connections. Don't get me wrong those connections are amazing and fulfilling BUT the loss of connection with the people that produce food, the people that produce clothes, the people that produce raw materials is how we have arrived at the point where we are supporting brands that abuse garment workers, that produce toxic laden fabrics that touch our skin and decimate the land, that will overproduce thousands of pounds of clothes each year so as not to "run out" and then dump those overstocks in landfills.
To be in union with creation, is simply a call to seek to understand how the fluttering wind from the wings of a butterfly can create a tsunami of consequences years later, seek to know the totality.
My current sustainable shifts that I am working on for the new year are;
Scented candles to diffusers
Tap Water to filtered water (adding back in minerals)
Do more Buy Sell Trade purchases (fancy way to say second hand, FB has amazing BST groups for all the sustainable brands that build their clothes to last lifetimes)
Entire Makeup routine
I would love to hear what you are shifting this year as apart of sustainable living?