We hear the word, “Sustainable” or “Sustainability” intertwined with “eco-friendly” and “green” a lot. But how does one live a sustainable life? How does de-cluttering and organizing affect the process? Lynn Fang, in her latest eBook, gives practical tutorials on living more sustainably. Lynn is a Sustainability Coach, environmental blogger, and food activist. She writes about her adventures in sustainable living, social change, and personal growth at Upcycled Love. You can follow her on Twitter or Google+.
1. Tell us something about yourself. What prompted you to start the “transformation” journey?
I would pinpoint the start of my journey to a few teachers I had at UC Berkeley. One was Tyrone Hayes, a scientist who studied evolution and endocrinology. He also happened to study the effects of the pesticide Atrazine which caused frogs to become hermaphroditic. He became a scientist activist, speaking about his findings, at the cost of University recognition and support. His ability to combine science and passionate activism really spoke to me, as he was also an amazing teacher and person.
Another pivotal moment was when I took a class by Eric Holt-Giminez, executive director at Food First, an Oakland-based food policy and sustainable development think tank. He was an incredibly passionate speaker who had worked in Latin America for 25 years teaching and implementing agroecological methods of farming with local peasant farmers. It was through his class that I first learned about the harms of GMO’s, and the toxic development policies of international organizations like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. His life and work are incredibly inspiring.
Since that mind-opening class, I’ve studied lot about sustainability, and felt this was the future, that we needed to be moving in this direction. I was a sustainability geek for a few years, reading all about the policy, economics, and technological innovations behind sustainability. Then one day, I was introduced to Jessica Reeder and her project to hop through different organic farms across the country. She documented her journey at Uprooted. I was hooked right away – this felt like something I had to do in my lifetime!
So those were the first seeds of food activism planted within me. I began to embody my knowledge more and more afterwards, by visiting and volunteering at organic farms, community gardens, and finally starting my blog as a means of encouraging myself to green my life.
2. Your latest book, “Living the Transformation” sounds like a “self-help” book on transforming our lives to something greater. What is the title mean and what is the book about?
“Living the Transformation” takes you on a journey from a dream of a more beautiful, harmonious, and sustainable world through poetic landscapes, practical tutorials, technical knowledge, lifestyles, cultural attitudes, and contemplations of our individual roles in social transformation. It’s a multi-faceted vision for conscious, sustainable change.
3. So, the book is about sustainable living?
I start the book with definitions of sustainability, because I think that lays an important foundation when looking at lifestyles of mindfulness and simplicity. For me, sustainability was always really important, just as important as personal happiness and clarity. And this book is really meant for people who are new to and interested in environmental sustainability.
I also think that people will often use the word “sustainability” to describe their efforts to be green, or use it in another way that is not related to environmental issues. Something that is “green” is not necessarily sustainable, and this distinction is often lost in the conversation. There’s nothing wrong with using “sustainability” in any of these colloquial ways, but I think talking about the specific, technical definition is also important to keep in mind.
4. Sustainability can be challenging for a lot of people for different reasons. Can anyone live a ‘sustainable’ life?
I do think sustainability is challenging for a lot of people. It’s a little abstract, and there are an overwhelming number of lifestyle changes you could make to be more sustainable. So my ebook is very much a beginner’s guide to sustainability. It’s gentle yet empowering, and my aim was to make it accessible for everyone.
The book combines practical and technical knowledge with emotional and spiritual support. I knew that it was hard for me in my own life to continually practice being green, so it must be challenging for others as well. I wondered what the issue was, and explored the different underlying reasons for these challenges in my own life. I saw that I wondered about my personal role in the community, what others would think of me, and whether or not my actions were really having much of an effect. So I felt there was an important emotional and community component that was stopping myself and many other people from living green.
5. Your book sounds really inspirational, especially for those who don’t know how what sustainability means. How do you stay inspired?
I’ve read a number of books on food and social transformation, all of which influence and inform my ideas in Living the Transformation. The Great Turning, by David Korten, was a pivotal book that captured the essence of social transformation based on human psychology. Korten envisions an Earth community, where all people and living things live in harmony with each other. His vision was influenced by people like Joanna Macy and Vandana Shiva. The dreamy vision I paint in Living the Transformation draws from their ideas.
There’s a great book by Maria Rodale, called Organic Manifesto which basically covers all the health issues with chemical food, and presents a vision for transitioning to organic farming.
I’m always keeping an eye out for inspirational projects in cultural transformation. I believe that if one person can achieve something, so can others. So if there are successful endeavors in changing policy, starting an eco-conscious business, or running a passion-based business, then I think that is evidence that our dreams can become reality.
6. Finally, as you know, we are at the end of “De-Clutter 2012 Challenge”. How does living a de-cluttered life fit into living sustainably. Do you think we can live a simpler, stuff-free, stress-free, and sustainable life, given the current cultural climate?
One of the first sections of my book deals with the consumer culture of TV and shopping. To have a clutter-free life, we have to look at the source of clutter – the shopping impulse, the desire to own new things. All of this comes from TV, media advertising, and pop culture. One way to help you detach from owning things is to realize that material things don’t bring more status or meaning into your life, and it really comes from other people trying to make money off you. My book also dabbles in topics like empowerment and resilience, so if you’re striving to be clutter-free, but keep faltering, remember that you’ve made progress, so celebrate your progress. And then keep working towards your clutter-free vision. And you’ve joined a De-Cluttering challenge, which is awesome! Doing things in community is a great way of encouraging lasting change in your life.
I think it’s possible to live simpler, stuff-free, stress-free, and sustainable lives, as much as we can in our current world. It can definitely be challenging, depending on who you are and where you come from. Some people have an easier time with it than others. I think the most important thing to focus on is to incorporate as many of these habits as you can, and don’t be judgmental to yourself or others. It’s important to focus on working in service to your higher purpose, and less on being perfect or getting the perfect outcome.
Thank You Lynn! I couldn’t agree with you more that it is very possible to live a sustainable life, even with the current cultural challenge as long as you practice majority of these habits you described. And my readers who’ve been faithfully de-cluttering their lives this month are ahead of the game!
On that note, Lynn has generously offered her eBook, “Living the Transformation“, to one of the participants of the “De-Clutter 2012″ Challenge.
Please leave a comment here, in addition to living a clutter-free life, what kinds of transformation you would like to see happen in your life this year? Your comment will be an extra entry to the giveaway. I will announce the winner on Monday, February 6, 2012.
Well, we are nearing the end of the De-Clutter Challenge. I will list all the items I’ve de-cluttered on my final post on Monday.
Have a great weekend!