If you’ve ever wondered if you’ve got what it takes to live a sustainable lifestyle this episode is for you. Terry shares practical tips on how to stay committed to your journey to help our planet.
Terry Chapin is the author of his latest book “Grassroots Stewardship: Sustainability Within Our Reach”. He’s also a professor of Ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and has written leading texts in ecosystem stewardship, ecology, and plant physiological ecology.
Now on to the interview.
How do you practice sustainability in your daily life?
One of the things I do is try to celebrate my connection with nature, realize why it is important to me, and why the things I do impact nature. I also wanted my kids to have the same relationship with it.
So I think a lot about finding ways to help my kids and friends do fun and pleasant things in nature so they’ll want to spend time and value nature.
I also try to make thoughtful decisions about what I buy and consume. I try to buy and use things I find necessary and valuable while avoiding buying things I don’t need. I do everything that lets me reduce levels of unnecessary consumption.
Since everybody needs to buy and consume things, it’s important to respect and support honorable consumption that other people do, rather than think that we have to sacrifice ourselves to support nature.
Another thing I try to do is to think of effective ways to communicate with people by building trust, identifying points of agreement, and thinking about our common goals rather than those we might disagree about.
Lastly, we can also participate in the political process and find ways to influence government decisions and how they do things. We can do this by voting, writing to the politicians representing us, and participating in government initiatives.
I practice this by joining the Climate Action Committee of the Fairbanks Bureau. We’re developing a climate action plan that helps the bureau decide what to do to lessen the impacts of climate change.
What is your take on sustainability?
I’d like to relate this with the idea of stewardship. This is about shaping pathways of change; to enhance the health of ecosystems and the well-being of society rather than keeping things the way they are now.
There are several ways we can achieve this. Some of which I mentioned earlier are good ways to start that journey.
What is a common roadblock with individuals looking to change to an eco-lifestyle?
I think one of the biggest roadblocks is that the challenge seems so overwhelming and global in scale that a single individual thinks they can’t make a difference.
One way to solve this is to let them realize that we can do so many things to make our community and the world a better place. By allowing each of us to do something, we can move in the right direction.
You can start by doing something that’s fun and that you’re passionate about. Then, try other things as you move along. We can do so many things to make the world a better place. You just have to find the ones that suit your passions and levels of commitment.
Another thing that can encourage us is to join groups with like-minded people who are also concerned about the same issues. We can find these groups online or in our community.
Do you think large companies have the potential to make a bigger impact on our planet? How can they participate in it?
There are so many different ways to make a difference. In fact, there are big transnational corporations that get together to set standards for sustainability.
For instance, many of the biggest seafood industries and processors have pulled together in a Blue Water Initiative to make fisheries more sustainable and to help reduce the amount of illegal fishing so that endangered fish stocks can recover.
Other large companies can also produce environment-friendly products to help the planet for the better. Even small companies can do a lot too by advertising the things that they care about and attracting a group of customers that care about the same causes.
I think we’re now close to a social tipping point where if more of us as individuals begin taking action, progress is likely to happen. Trying to make changes in our lives or other people’s lives will lead to a more positive future.
What’s your hope for sustainability?
I don’t think we’re doomed. It’s more a question of how unpleasant life can become for society and nature if we keep on the pathway we’re on now; there could be more widespread wildfires, more frequent flooding, and more inundation of coastal communities where most people live.
But there are things we can do to prevent or reduce the likelihood of those events happening. We have to realize that we have a responsibility, not only to ourselves but to future generations, to do something about these problems. After all, there are no other people to solve these problems but ourselves.
I hope you enjoyed my talk with Terry and that you took away some value. If you want to listen to the entire interview, click play below or head over to your favorite platform (Apple, Spotify, or Google.)
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