The Importance of Living Consciously

I have been deliberating over what my next blogpost should be about for a couple of days now, since my iPhone’s Balanced App repeatedly reminds me that I’m due for my biweekly internet rant (it also reminds me that I need to exercise… I’m working on that). I’ve decided to write on my personal opinion on why it is so important to live a well-rounded, conscious lifestyle. This is consciousness in all aspects of the term: politically, environmentally, socially, etc. There are still many things about the world that my naive and idealistic 20 year old self has yet to understand, but this is what consciousness means to me at this point in time.

Pollution in Guangzhou, China, where I spent my life ages 6-14.

I’ll start with the one that most of my friends associate me with: environmental consciousness. Living in southern China, a giant manufacturing hub, for 8 years, then moving to the Pacific Northwest and having the best environmental science teacher I could ever ask for was a massive lesson in the importance of sustainability. This, coupled with an increased knowledge of the evils of the fossil fuels industry, observations of the wasteful consumption that have become the norm, and realizing the willful ignorance of the general public are all reasons why the environment matters to me so much more today. Unfortunately I have to wait a couple more years before I can graduate and go out and do things, but for now here are a few things that I do to stay green:

  • Waste as little as possible. Discovering blogs like Trash is for Tossers and Zero Waste Home over the past summer have been huge wake-up calls to how much I am contributing to landfills by just buying a bunch of plastic-packaged goods. I have decided that my life needs a bit of a makeover, and I have been taking steps and swapping out my one-time use products for their longer-lasting, more sustainable counterparts. There are other intuitive things like taking less time in the shower, not leaving the tap on, turning the lights off when you don’t need them, etc.
  • Buy secondhand. This pertains more to my obsession with fashion & clothes, and I will admit that I have definitely fallen into the trap of buying fast-fashion because it’s on trend. I’m working on it. But compared with a few years ago, a larger portion of my closet is secondhand, which has not only made my style more unique, but has saved me quite a few dollars. If you need to buy new, then invest. Not only will those pieces look better than the crap you pick up at Forever21, it will have been made ethically and last you a longer time. I also stay up to date with efforts the industry is making towards becoming more green, like Pharrell’s G-Star Raw for the Oceans, Stella McCartney’s GCC Capsule line, etc. You can check out some of these links under the “Organizations” tab.
  • Know what’s going on in the world. As somebody who is keen on entering the solar industry upon graduation, I like to stay up to date with what’s going on through sites like Greentech Media and Grist, both of which I am subscribed to on Bloglovin’ (not only for fashion blogs; you can use it for news too!). This is less relevant for people who don’t have the same plans for their future as I do, but it’s a good thing to know what’s happening around you, rather than stay trapped in a bubble. A subscription to theSkimm would be a good start. Although it is technically tailored to women, both guys and girls should sign up; knowledge is good for everybody.

The political thing is something that I really only came into over the summer, when I went to a thing for Lady Parts Justice at the Deep End Club in New York. I think this was mid-May, and I barely knew what feminism was, or why we needed it. That “thing” educated me so, so much, and upon getting back to the hostel I was staying at, I opened up google and started reading up. In typical “me” fashion, I then subscribed to Al Jazeera, theSkimm, & followed a bunch of news sources on Facebook and Twitter and made it a goal for myself to read the news every day. And especially with the sheer magnitude of events that have been happening recently with Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice, I increasingly believe that anybody who ignores it and accepts it as “business-as-usual” is incredibly dense and a person that I do not wish to be acquainted with at all. It is true that because most of us are not involved in government it’s difficult to make concrete changes, but you have a voice, so use it. This injustice is only the tip of the iceberg, though – things like this have been going on in other places for ages, but it’s only a few of the incidents have occurred in the US and gone viral that people are starting to pay attention.

Social consciousness and political consciousness pretty much go hand in hand. My feminist awakening was the first step, and it’s led me to question things like why Shia LaBeouf’s rape allegations aren’t being taken seriously. It’s gotten so little press. I also had a little scroll through the #CrimingWhileWhite and #Alivewhileblack hashtags on twitter yesterday, and the posts that I was reading on there completely made me rethink some of the ingrained racial opinions that my older Chinese relatives have expressed to me while I was growing up. This is definitely something that is more difficult to put into coherent words, but the point is to be aware, stay informed, and question things. Think. Use your brain. Try to make the world a better place, yadah yadah.