Sustainability is the hot new catchphrase as society seeks to mitigate the impact our species has on the environment, but it is not a new concept – nor is it confined to simply addressing climate change. Living sustainably means seeking a balance so that our entire culture can thrive – socially, economically,
emotionally and physically.
Many of us were raised on the cusp of this new consciousness. I recall asking my grandmother once why she saved all her bread bags. She explained that she grew up during the Depression, where they saved everything to maximize what little money they had. During WWII, there were Victory Gardens so the government could focus their resources on sending supplies to troops overseas. There was a real sense of pride among people that they could raise their own food and be part of the war effort.
My own family lived in more prosperous times and had no need for that much thrift. It wasn’t until I was well into my adult years that recycling became the thing. I dutifully separated cans, glass and plastic for the garbage men to pick up, confident that I was doing the right thing. I even squirreled away bags and containers to reuse, not because I needed to but because it was better for the earth. But I was still buying them, every time I went grocery shopping.
Years later, we’ve become more conscious consumers, but we’re spending increasingly more money on foods that are shipped in from somewhere else and have a huge carbon footprint. Some of us have made the switch to using cloth bags at the store – if we remember to take them with us when we leave the car. And we’re still filling landfills with the detritus of a dying way of life.
I am glad to live in a state where the importance of sustainable living is recognized and promoted. But it’s also a place where increasing numbers of people struggle to make ends meet. I know I am not alone in living paycheck to paycheck, with bright, sensible, college-educated kids who can’t quite survive on their own, and with parents whose quality of life is diminished – all because everything is so damn expensive. Many local businesses have tanked in the last 15 years for the very same reason, and many others wonder just how much longer they can remain viable before they
collapse. It’s scary, and it’s sad.
There is a bright spot, though. We sustain each other in so many ways. Neighbors who grow extra vegetables to give to neighbors, volunteers who spend hours sorting through donations for church rummage sales and clothing giveaways, kids who plan charity events for their peers, individuals, business owners and foundations who willingly give time and money to offer comfort or
assistance – the list is endless. My job in promoting such generosity and spirit in the pages of the Vermont News Guide is so rewarding. And since rolling out our own plea for support with our Membership Campaign, we’ve been incredibly touched by the donations and encouragement we’ve received. We hope we can continue as a vital resource for the community as we welcome new members! Feel free to email me if you’d like more information at [email protected]