I'm embarking on an experiment in sustainable living.
We live in strange times – and strange times call for strange measures. We live in a world of excess, overconsumption, depletion, degradation and waste. We are an ungrateful species on a miracle of a planet that we don't deserve. Will we find redemption? To be determined. In the meantime, I'm going on my own journey to discover what a truly sustainable lifestyle looks like to me; a lifestyle that throws 'ignorance is bliss' to the wind; a lifestyle where I have to make some tough decisions and be able to sleep at night with the choices that I've made.
The project I'm about to embark on (and I hope you'll join me!) was inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: an experimental mutiny against excess. This book came into my life, as many things do, by chance. The book is written as a diary of her experiences in minimizing the aspects of consumerism that were getting in the way of her connecting to God and being able to live in a manner that Jesus would be proud of, rather than in wealth and excess while her poorer brothers and sisters around her were suffering. Over the course of 7 months, with a new issue tackled each month, she explores different ways to minimize (and maximize) the following aspects of her life: food, clothing, possessions, media, stress, waste and shopping. While I have no connection to organized religion, the basic sentiment of the book stuck with me and prompted me to go on a journey of my own.
My version of Project Seven is taking on a different tone, with the same basic overall premise: you have to minimize certain aspects of your life in order to maximize others.
While Hatmaker is coming at overconsumption from a religious POV, I’ve been struggling with overconsumption from a holistic sustainability POV. After having just graduated with my MFA in Design for Sustainability, living for 2 beautiful years inside of bubble with wonderful and caring individuals who are passionate about creating change, I’ve now entered the real world. The bubble has been broken.
Moving from the bubble into the world of corporate sustainability world has been… eye opening to say the least. Two months in and I already know that it’s not for me. I have a few more months on my current path, and then everything is up in the air again. There’s a bit of a ticking time bomb on my back as I try to navigate where to go from here. I’m staring at a blank map with no compass – and I know some of you probably feel the same way. This is an experiment in discovering what matters to me the most, and saying goodbye to the things that I can live without.
The reasons that I'm documenting and sharing this information is threefold:
- I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Whether you're a recent grad trying to figure out what to do with your 40 hours and struggling to find a company who's ethics you agree with, or you're out in the field already dreading going into a soul sucking job every morning at a company who's ethics you don't agree with – we're all just trying to figure it out. If you're willing to stay tuned, I'm willing to share what I learn along the way. Or help you design your own journey to embark on.
- Now that the pressures of reading and writing for my thesis are over (Praise Be to Him), I'm rediscovering my lost loves. Now that my university days are behind me, my real education in life begins. It's also time to discover my voice and what I want to say with it. Writing helps me do that.
- While I'm inspired by many individuals in the world right now that are on their own sustainability related journeys, I'm disheartened by many aspects of the currently sustainability movement. Something is missing, and I hope this project will help me figure it out and share it with you. I hope that people will be willing to share their stories with me along the way so that we can all learn from one another.
The ultimate goal of this project, while focused on personal transformation and growth, is really about figuring out how I want to live my life so that I can have the biggest positive impact on the world around me. But you have to figure out your own shit before you can help anybody else, so here we go.
Jen Hatmaker’s original version of Project 7 (broken into 7 months):
1. Food: eat only 7 foods for a month.
2. Clothes: wear only 7 items of clothing for a month.
3. Spending: spend money at only 7 companies for a month.
4. Media: stop using 7 types of media for a month.
5. Possessions: donate 7 possessions a day.
6. Waste: practice 7 green habits for a month.
7. Stress: pray 7 times a day for a month.
My version of Project Seven (broken into 7 weeks):
Week 0: Research – read 7 books in 7 days in preparation for Project Seven.
Week 1: Clothing & Possessions – wear only 7 items of clothing for 7 days and donate 700 items by the end of the week.
Week 2: Diet & Nutrition – eat only 7 items of food for 7 days (as local and zero waste as possible)
Week 3: Energy Consumption & Media – only use 7 hours of electricity in 7 days.
Week 4: Skills for Sustainability – learn 7 new sustainability related skills in 7 days.
Week 5: Health & Wellness – complete 7 healthy habits a day for 7 days.
Week 6: People & Places – meet 7 new people in 7 new places in 7 days.
Week 7: Money - tbd (suggestions welcome)
All 7 Weeks: Visit a new place of worship once a week for seven weeks.
By the end of 7 weeks: make 7 commitments to myself about how I want to live my life.
This is just the beginning, so please feel free to reach out and share suggestion, stories, advice or anything else you feel like sharing!