The dogs announced the landing of the plastic wrapped package on my doorstep. Used shoes. In terms of limiting my impact on the planet, were the shoes an acceptable purchase—or an unreasonable indulgence? I don't even give a thought to the fact that someone else's feet have been in these shoes. I give them a spritz with disinfectant, wipe them out, and slip them on. In the era of climate change, it's not about whether the shoes were worn, but whether that plastic wrapper really will be recycled.
Truth: I have a shoe habit. It will serve as a good-enough illustration of the struggle to do better. I continue to purchase shoes even though I already own more pairs than a reasonable person should. And while some of my old footwear no longer serves a purpose, I do not easily give up pairs I've loved in the past, unless it is to replace them with ones I plan to love in the future. If you dropped an alien in from a visiting planet and they looked at my collection of shoes, I'm sure they'd wonder where I am hiding all of my extra feet.
So what does balance look like? What really is important? After a childhood spent wandering my local woodland, I developed a deep love for nature. Most days I would find time to get on my pony, Duke, and head for any green space that hadn't yet been carved up by developers. Given his head, Duke would wander off trails following his curiosity, and I got to ride along for the adventure. On the best days, he'd lead us to a stream where we cooled off in the water and listened to birds. I still make a point of getting into the local woodland as much as possible. And I want future generations to be able to do the same. This, I believe, is important.
The urgency to change how we live presses in with every headline spreading the news of the latest natural disaster. Many of us are trying to find a path forward that protects wild spaces and human habitats, we are trying to adapt and be good planetary citizens, but we do not prematurely want to become hermits living in caves. What sustainability filters must we consider when making myriad everyday choices? What does balance look like?
As temperatures rise and weather patterns shift, I hope the pages of this blog will be a place we can have a conversation about daily life and the adaptations we choose in an effort to protect the things that matter to us.
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua 2008 — Photo by Hannah Norton