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Living to a Higher Standard

Using Minimalism to reduce our footprint

Plastic covered person
Photography by Karina Tess

“Everything in excess is opposed to nature.”

—Hippocrates

With a rising population comes a rise in the human footprint on the earth. The impact of this is hard to ignore, even for the least observant. Our public transport systems are busier than ever, and face increasing pressure. There is more demand to build newer and larger roads and homes. As our cities expand, our forests and natural areas of beauty dwindle.

The wonderful creatures that called these places home suffer, becoming increasingly displaced. Their own homes are compromised, and these creatures are forced into unnatural ways of surviving, when they should be left alone to thrive.

We pollute our oceans. We wrap just about anything we can in plastic.

Never before have we had to deal with such aggressive advertising on a daily basis. Never has the message to consume “more” been stronger. And, in an all-too-often zombified state, we oblige.

As our decoration, wardrobes, and trinkets expand, clutter consumes us. But still we thirst for more. Our homes are no longer big enough to house all we have, so we take up additional rental space—just for now, we kid ourselves. Just until we clear the decks, knowing that day will never come.

Perhaps we convince ourselves that we “need” a bigger home. The fact that we may not be able to afford it doesn’t enter into the equation. After all, we “need” the additional space for all of the additional stuff.

To paraphrase Chuck Palahniuk, we spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t care for much. We try to keep up even though, somewhere deep inside, we know that it’s just a race to the bottom.

Does this sound like the work of an evolved species? Does this behavior sound enlightened?

Treading Lightly Instead

We can resist. More than that, we have a responsibility to resist. We can choose to consume less. We can choose to consume responsibly. We can judge and compare less.

We can make space for nature. Respecting every living being on the planet, understanding we are all part of an intricate puzzle and all just temporary guests here—temporary guests that owe their host environment the courtesy of not damaging anything.

We can use fewer pollutants. We can recycle, reutilize, and revitalize.

We can say no to evasive and intrusive advertising. We can choose to live intentionally, with “enough” instead of “too much.”

We can affect change in our own small but meaningful way.

We can reduce our footprint. We can look to make any footprints we do leave positive ones. We can try to make the world a slightly better place to be.

Seemingly tiny steps add up. Small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness have a compound effect. We can live to a higher standard. We can hold ourselves accountable to this higher standard. The world is waiting. The world is watching. How will you choose to help it?

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