About this blog: Intentional Abundance
I have set out to write a blog about Sustainable Consumerism, a way of life where I consciously and responsibly purchase things with the knowledge that what is bought will be used and enjoyed, will fill a need, provide joy and will be not be neglected or disposed of recklessly. My home will be organized, uncluttered and things will be easy to find and put away. I’ll say NO to extra, unnecessary, wasteful things, and YES to everything that will enhance my life. My hard earned dollars will be responsibly used to make my life better. In other words, INTENTIONAL ABUNDANCE.
This is a great vision, but surprisingly difficult to put into practice. I have found it is easy to swing to extremes with this principle, becoming too obsessive compulsive and not buying anything, or buying things then feeling guilty about it. Saying YES to inferior cheap or free stuff, when I should say NO and buy the thing I really want or need. Similarly, completely loosening the reigns doesn’t feel right either, the environment is being devastated to support my consumption and in truth, I don’t need a mountain of stuff to be happy. In many ways, the act of maintaining, buying, returning, disposing, cleaning etc has become exhausting.
There is a need to find a path of moderation where I can “vote with my dollar,” live minimally, but still be relaxed and feel deserving of the purchases I make that will really improve my quality of life. I also would like to be able to let go of excess without feeling like I’m being wasteful. Writing this blog is one way to find the points of vigilance and relaxation and the ability to cut through the excess and focus on the essentials. In other words: INTENTIONAL ABUNDANCE.
I am sure that there are others out there who have had a similar struggle and I’m realizing that before I can advise or preach on the merits of Sustainable Consumerism and how to go about it, I must first sort out my relationship with stuff, my ethic of living with a small environmental footprint and also answer the question of how I want to spend my money.
The decisions we make each day impact the environment. As an urban American, I don’t see them too much but I know about them and it troubles me. The plastic island in the ocean, the rivers in China that are fluorescent from clothing dye and other chemicals, the massive extinction of species, the air pollution that pollutes the lungs of most of the urban developed world, and of course the looming threat of climate change. While I do hope that my actions and writing will influence others to be more environmentally conscious with their relationship to “stuff,” – and I might share some “helpful hints”, or “lessons learned” along the way, I must first focus on my own behavior.
In the framework of human impact on the world, even the smallest decisions add up. My purchases use resources and create pollution as they are produced and result in waste when they are disposed of. On the other hand, they also keep people employed and provide me (hopefully) the things I need and want and improve my quality of life. To point to a simple example, a much needed coffee break comes with that wonderful smell and a caffeine high, but also use of a (Ack!) disposable cup, and sometimes questions about fair trade coffee.
The question and subject of this blog is how to reconcile the desire for a nice and comfortable lifestyle with my values of environmentalism, minimalism, and limiting the impact that my decisions and purchases have on others and the earth. Tied up in this are also decisions of how to spend money, how to build a comfortable home, how to empty out the closet, declutter, and decide it is time to let things go.
This blog has yet to completely take shape, but will be a collection of writings that help me define my consumeristic and lifestyle values and show me and other how they can be put into practice. I will describe some of the purchases I make, the search for alternatives and the decisions made. I’m happy to endorse certain products that have served me well, and also to criticize those that have failed. There are already some things I am doing well that are worth sharing – and as I learn more about how to purchase and use items responsibly and joyfully, I will share those tips.
Please feel free to comment as this blog evolves. I look forward to sharing and hearing from you.
It is only fair to tell you a little more about myself as the decisions I make and describe here in this blog will very likely be shaped by my current stage in life. I’m in my late 30s, and have a husband and a son born December 2015. We rent a two bedroom apartment in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles where my husband works from home as a musician, and I walk .8 miles to the local Metro for a 30 minute commute downtown to work. My family isn’t local, they live in New Jersey and New York area, my in-laws are in Europe, and my college friends are dispersed throughout the country. I have found a great little community in Los Feliz and Los Angeles, meeting many other professionals, artists, locals and transplants, and both stay at home and working moms.
I work full-time in the field of Transportation Planning. When I was younger and faced with the age old question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would always say “Environmentalist,” knowing that I had a concern for the earth and how we take care of it, but not being educated enough on how to apply that goal professionally. I eventually earned a BA in Communications, a Masters in Conservation Biology, and a PhD in Urban Planning. Though I adore the field of Urban Planning, I’m still not sure that my job leads to positive environmental change. However, I am intellectually challenged, figuring out how to juggle competing interests (some of them environmental) in a growing urban area.
A long-term, yet unrealized goal of mine is home ownership, but unfortunately, a reasonably priced three bedroom home within 30 minutes of downtown and in a good school district is too much to ask in Los Angeles so we continue to rent and share a bedroom with our baby. We have decided to make the space vs proximity trade-off and its working for now. As it relates to this blog, space is undoubtedly at a premium. We don’t have the luxury to put things on “display,” and by the constraints of our home, must be conscious of what we acquire and discard. However, I love being close to my neighbors and being able to walk to things in the neighborhood.
In my free time, I like to paint, draw, go hiking, take dance classes, play tennis, go for plenty of neighborhood walks and host game nights and other get-togethers. I’ve had the privileges of good health, education, financial stability and have created the opportunity to travel to over 40 different countries.
You’ll get to know me better if you keep reading, but that’s it for now!