The past year and a half have radically shifted the ways in which so many of us view the world. It’s been a wild 15 months – from a pandemic and raging wildfires to the dozens of species that are now extinct due to human impact. New humanism is linked to environmental sustainability in so many ways, yet many of us neglect ideological praxis.
Writing down and publishing the steps I want to take to live sustainably is the easiest way to hold myself accountable. Below, I am going to list a few of the ways in which I hope to change my behavior over the next few months. Hopefully, some of you other Humanists will find inspiration in these pledges and commit yourselves to the cause.
- Only buy from sustainable clothing companies. The fashion industry is one of the worst perpetrators of greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, it produced 92 million tons of waste, consumed more than 1.5 trillion liters of water, and contributed chemical pollution and CO2 emissions. Slow fashion is becoming more popular, but the cost is still inaccessible to most people. All that said, I want to commit to only purchasing sustainable garments, like those from Backbeat Co and Elizabeth Suzann.
- Eat sustainably. For me, this means cutting out most meat, growing my own produce, and shopping as locally as possible. By the end of 2021, I’d like all of the meat I consume to come from businesses who focus on environmental sustainability and wildlife stewardship. [Slight update here, I used to link only to Lummi Island Wild in this post, as that’s who I have used most often for salmon and halibut, but I have been made aware recently that there are others who practice sustainably and I don’t want to edge them out. I’ll link here instead to Quality Seafood Delivery Salmon, which is how I found Lummi in the first place.] I’m also in the process of planting my own vegetable garden. I don’t know how much this tiny patch of land will contribute to my diet, but I think it’s worth the effort. Plus, I am lucky to live in a part of the world that has year-round farmers markets. Shopping local supports small businesses and contributes to the local economy. This is my effort to divest from industrial agriculture.
- Reduce at-home energy consumption. This is a tough one for many Humanists to follow. We know that individual people are not responsible for the wildly unsustainable energy consumption in this world. Still, we can do our part to reduce personal emissions. I plan to unplug idle electronics, switch all my bulbs to LEDs, and only use climate-control appliances, like heaters and air conditioners, when absolutely necessary.
- Volunteer time to environmental causes. To be a Humanist is to be a steward of the lands on which we live. Humanity is a part of nature, and so we must do what we can to preserve the planet on which we live. Many of us live in places that have abundant volunteer opportunities – beach clean-ups, trail maintenance, wildlife preservation, and fundraisers. I want to commit at least one weekend each month to contribute to something in my city.
Before I go, I want to affirm that these are actions that I plan to take. I don’t mean to be prescriptive in any way – we Humanists should commit to actions that feel sustainable in our own lives. The above pledges are the most accessible to me. There are hundreds of ways to be a Humanist environmentalist, and I hope you find what works for you.