Green living is a passionate pursuit, one that requires 3 C’s: conviction, consideration and co-operation. We urbans need the conviction to break away from the highly addictive disposable lifestyle, show a little consideration for the world before us and co-operate with each other to give green living a ‘sustainable’ chance. This is where we UrbanMeisters.com comes in- helping build a network of like-minded folk to spread the green living message and foster change through sharing knowledge, experiences, updates and advice on green products, trends, DIY projects and healthy lifestyle choices- all baby steps in the direction of green living. This sharing of information is what will help to usher in a green wave. And sharing one such Urban Voice of conviction is our Guest Writer Matheu Martell- a ‘not-so-regular’ city slicker switching to green living in the city one step at a time. Over to Matheu.
Green Living: The Switch
My name is Matheu, I am a 25-year-old fitness professional, Director of Operations for group fitness start up, SWEAT Chicago, Inc. and financial professional who has a deep passion for the Earth and all life on it.
Every day I wake up and am thankful to live an exciting life in such a great city. I started in fitness because I realized it’s positive effects on life and how many positive, healthy changes come from it. My life in Chicago is thrilling and I wouldn’t change it for anything! At the end of the day, when I wind down and get ready for bed, I realize something is missing, something is wrong. As I look out over the state of Illinois and realize that where the urban jungle ends, suburban life and agriculture begins for endless miles across the Midwest. Have you ever taken a plane ride, looked down and seen nothing but squares and lines with tiny dots moving across the lines (cars)? It worries me. Miles and miles of human development, paved roads, buildings, chain link fences, toxic car fumes, pesticides, rows and rows of corn fields. This city is growing, the population is growing, more and more land is being cleared every day. It gets me thinking – Where is there room for REAL jungles and land for other organisms that AREN’T necessarily for the human benefit? Human pollution, expansion and poaching are killing off species at the fastest rate in the past million years in areas that are totally out of my control. Societal pressures to grow the economy and to have kids and raise a family are superseding our responsibility to our own planet and to other organisms that we share this place with. This earth, and all life on it, are beautiful and irreplaceable. If we are not careful, we will destroy it all from neglect and in the end we will be responsible for our own demise. The planet will be unable to sustain human population growth, resources will run low, fights and war for resources will worsen, the air we breathe may just become toxic, real fear will set in. We are facing a mass extinction event – maybe not today or tomorrow but eventually if we do not change.
I have realized that this is extremely depressing and nearly paralyzing to dwell on, and I simply cannot live my life this way. It does no good to ignore it, nor to sit motionless like a deer in headlights. To initiate change, I must first change myself.
Green Living: Be the Change
Mahatma Gandhi said, « Be the change you want to see in the world » and I’ve decided to take small achievable steps to start the process of being the change! That is why this year, I decided that I don’t need any presents for my birthday. I don’t need cards made of paper, cut from trees and taken from forests. I don’t need gifts made from earth materials that might end up in landfills decomposing for hundreds, thousands of years. What I needed to do is to give it back to those who REALLY need it, who do not have a human voice to cry for help. I am advocating for all of the animals of the world who are misunderstood by humans and suffering at our expense. This is not just our planet. We live here with others! And where one tree is taken down – a home for many animals and a living thing itself is destroyed – another tree should be planted. Where one building is constructed, another should be cleared and the land recycled.
So instead of the usual celebrations, I participated in this event and I hope to influence the behavior of those around me who are willing to listen. It was held in connection with the group fitness studio, SWEAT Chicago, Inc. (a community I consider family) as a fundraiser for World Wildlife Fund to Save the Species on January 28 (my birthday) with silent auction items and raffles. I am astounded by the amount of donations I have received to raise more awareness for this cause.
The event was a great success! Or let’s say my birthday celebrations were grand! We were able to raise over $3000 for the World Wildlife Fund. I thank everyone for showing up and making all this possible.
I also encourage EVERYONE, those who attended or not, friends, acquaintances and strangers, to please consider any cause and donate a little something – anything. Birthday celebrated this way gives you immense joy and I can personally vouch for it. I think of it as, rather than buying a birthday card, or a gift card, or a gift, or even a cup of coffee or a round of drinks at the bar – I gave that resource towards efforts to save species that might not have much of a chance left for survival on this earth at our hand.
Green Living: Practical tips
All money aside, and perhaps more importantly, I’d like to encourage everyone to be mindful of the footprint left behind on this planet on small scales and on larger scales. Rather than building a new home from the ground up on fresh land – renovate an existing home and reuse materials that are already cut for human use. Plant a tree or a garden. Have real house plants, not plastic! Recycle. Reconsider every purchase you make that involves plastic. Consider the vehicle you drive and how often you drive it and its impact on the air we, along with millions of other organisms, breathe. There are countless resources that can help everyday life become greener. Public transit. Riding a bicycle. Uber pool! Having reusable grocery and produce bags. Organizations such as World Wildlife Fund and UrbanMeisters have done a great job leading change! Thanks so much for allowing me to use this platform to tell my story! Day by day, we can make the planet a little brighter, greener and happier for ALL.
What specific steps I take to live green?
- I recently got a bike for my weekly commutes. Nothing too fancy, but it saves on carbon emissions and money! When I am not riding my bike, I take public transportation as much as I can, even if I can afford to take ubers or taxis!
- Recycle. All glass and plastic materials I rinse out and throw into the recycling bin with cardboard and other recyclables.
- Reusable grocery and produce bags! I bought some mesh produce bags on Amazon to reduce the amount of plastic I use.
- I don’t eat dairy. It’s unnatural and humans are the only animals who consume another animal’s dairy or consume dairy after infancy. Dairy farms are BAD. Land for grazing domestic farm animals takes up a massive amount of the Earth.
- Exercise every day and every time I feel ineffective, down or hopeless. I am a firm believer that attitude can effect everything. By leading a healthy lifestyle, I can continue to push for change and face challenges with the right mindset rather than falling into old habits. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain which make you happy.
- Sign petitions for change to lawmakers. By creating an account through WWF (which is free), I have access to contribute my signature to many petitions to change the legal system to our planet’s advantage. This is a huge step towards saving the planet if the legal system supports it.
- Green life should be more cost effective but unfortunately it isn’t always. I support businesses and tax systems that support the greener planet. The more popular they get, the more cost effective they will become. In the meantime, realize that it is worth the investment and is usually healthier for your body in terms of organic foods.
- Have events that support WWF! It’s easy to register an event on their website and the donation page is easily set up.
With the right “glass half full” attitude and a desire for change, we can make it happen! It takes more than a village – it takes a world of difference. First, change starts from within.
Matheu sums it up perfectly urbanmeisters! Green living is all about the 3 C’s of conviction, consideration and co-operation and we’re here to help you with all three! We encourage you to share your green story, tips and advice with us to help inspire others. Write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org