Sustainable Living for Real People: Finding a Balance Between Values and Enjoyment

a row of organic yarn skeins in dark grey

One of my friends in the ‘live a more sustainable life’ professional world got an email this week. It commented on her work in a negative way. trying to prove that they weren’t all that sustainable at all.

This really got to me and it made me so sad. What is the point of doing such a thing other than bringing someone, who's actually doing a lot of work to make  change happen, down?

I’m sure that email writer isn’t perfect herself. And I’m also sure we can all find chips that came off of our value statements over time. Cracks in our ideals. Tears in our manifestos.

So fucking what?

Even Malala must cry out profanities when she bumps her toe. Someone must have handed Greta a plastic bottle of water to drink at a certain point during all the demonstrations, I’m sure she took a sip.

The point of all this work we do is not to be perfect. It’s even almost the opposite.

The point is to show the world we need to be human and make small changes where we can.

To make change part of a doable and even fun lifestyle. 

The point is to remind people not become cynics.

The point is to build lives that are part of the solution and not drown in feelings of guilt and pointlessness. 

The point is to keep going forward and upward. 

I personally believe that making change will only work if it can be comfortably incorporated in most people’s lives. (Disclaimer: Different levels of comfort apply to different people.)

An example.

Me and my fiancé love cars. This is a very inconvenient hobby to have. In this chapter of our lives we are in the privileged situation that he can drive an electric car for work. I bike everywhere because we live in the city and I work from home. When he travels for work he usually travels by plane. Whenever I travel I take a train, even if that’s more expensive and takes double the amount of time. About four times a year we drive a classic car rally, we absolutely love that. It had been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I just love the thrill of the race, the sound of the machine and the different connection you get trying to achieve something as a team each within your own role. (Do you think I’m the driver or the navigator?)

Funnily enough we get comments on the electric car more than on the classics. ‘Did you know that those batteries are very bad for the environment?’ (…)

As a family we try to find a balance where we can. We use our money and our smarts to make better choices. I use my work time to talk, teach and inspire a small group in society; the fiber and needle crafters and sellers.

I think we have to because we can. We also don’t want our lives to become doomy and gloomy (it’s something I actively have to battle, I do get eco depressed sometimes) We have two teens. I want to inspire them to make better choices from a perspective of love, care and respect. We support their more sustainable choices and compliment on them. We set an example and we see them following it. In fact, they keep us on our toes too. What’s normal in our family is what we consciously and constantly show them.

Finding bits and bobs to make small changes is much more realistic than going round carrying the weight of this sick world on your shoulders.

I believe change will happen from billions of people making small changes.

The ‘almost’ perfect activists - and us on a good day - can demonstrate and write to our leaders for extra pushing.

But sending out critical emails to people that are making a huge chunk of their lives about inspiring others to take small pieces of action is just…

A waste of good energy.

Please don’t be that person.

The big corporations can make big changes if millions of people send out small messages. Emailing and petitioning about individual wrappers and slave chocolate. But mostly... by voting with your money.


Grow your veggies yourself. Learn to sew a summer top. Making sustainable choices can be absolutely be fun, economical (!) and unifying.


Welcome to the Ja, Wol Community where we do what we can, share what we love and make our lives matter in positive and human ways.

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The picture above is yarn I bought recently. I don't need yarn. I have a large stash. The yarn itself though ticks my value boxes and it’s going to close a gap I defined in my wardrobe so it will get a lot of wear. It was bought from a more sustainable yarn shop that is sadly closing their doors, before they start the sale so she won’t lose any money, that's why I bought it. So while I often focus on what I need first, this time it was about something else. 

Again, please...

Take Time to Think & Vote with your Money

  1. Decide what it is you need
  2. Find the seller that needs your business
  3. Choose the products that match your values and that will last
  4. Find service based businesses that help you care for and fix products when you can’t do it yourself
  5. Get the conversation going, inspire others

Don’t judge others but inspire and set an example. After a while people will come to you for advice and… they will guiltily tell you they’re taking a plane to their Summer destination. Wish them a wonderful rest and invite them over to diner sharing your home grown veggies when they return.

Change takes time. You are here. Let’s spend 40 hours knitting a sweater instead of buying three in 15 minutes.


the imperfect activist

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