Changemaker Interview: How Simplicity Opens New Beginnings

This week we’re sharing a Changemaker Interview with Mary Peraro, a retired educator who recently moved across the country to begin a new and simpler life. Her passion is learning – and she “strives to discover how one can get the most out of life through new experiences.” This past year, she has dramatically downshifted her life and took some time to tell us some of the highlights. Her story is a reminder that living simply can open up new experiences and new beginnings.

1. What led you to practice simplicity in your life? Was there a turning point or something that inspired you?

Many things led me to practice simplicity in my life. During the last few years of work I realized that I did not need much to be happy and to survive. Little by little I began to purge what I had. I was living in an 1900 square foot home and spent all of my time in three rooms. After retirement it became more evident that all ” the things” that I owned were not really needed. Last year, I decided that I needed a change and I needed to move. In two days I made the decision and had my house on the market and was moving across the country to Colorado. I needed to focus more on living and not existing in a big house. In making the move I decided not to bring any furniture except for one chair and a small table. I took the basics: clothes and some books and pictures.

So the inspiration was in the transition to another stage of my life and the realization that what was important was not the goods that I owned but people – and really experiencing life. I moved from a 1900 square foot home to a 500 square foot studio apartment. Wow. I loved it. My time in a studio taught me that simple living brought peace and contentment and eliminated many worries.

2. Why do you think living simply is important now? What changes have you made and how does it feel?

I am now living in a 1000 square foot condo and I love it. I have the basics and it let’s me focus on living and learning.The biggest change I have made is to focus on thinking outside of my comfort zone in learning new things and meeting new people.

4. What advice do you have for others who are looking to make life changes but may not know how to start?

My advice to others is to not be afraid. Just jump in and do it. It is so liberating. Don’t let fear hold you because simplifying your life brings new excitement for living. Letting go of things doesn’t mean you forget the memories. They will always be with you but you do not have to have things to remember. Most importantly, living simply allows you to train your mind from clutter and models for you the ability to be open to new experiences and new beginnings.

Thinking of living more simply but don’t know where to start? Check out NWEI’s newest course book A Different Way: Living Simply in a Complex World – or join the EcoChallenge this October 11-25th and choose a Simplicity Challenge.

EcoChallenge Countdown: Getting Better With Age

It’s hard to believe we’re just over a month away from EcoChallenge 2017, to be held October 11-25th. Every year it gets better and better thanks to your feedback—we’re listening. We’ve added three new features this year to help you reach your goals and make your EcoChallenge a success.

This year, you can choose actions based on what you already do, assessing yourself along the way. For each action you might choose, you can note whether you already do this action in your life. It’s a great way to see where you are along your sustainability journey, while also considering what else you’d like to try. You’ll also be able to gauge different actions according to our new level system, picking EcoLearner, EcoPro or EcoLeader actions that correspond with difficulty level. Finally, we have more resource pages and links added throughout, so you can double your learning this year about why particular actions are so important.

Watch this short video to learn what’s new. And – be sure to register if you haven’t yet!

2017 EcoChallenge New Features from Northwest Earth Institute on Vimeo.

3 Tips for More Sustainable Eating

One of the things I love most about the Northwest Earth Institute is how through the Discussion Course books and EcoChallenge, I’m reminded over and over again about all the ways I can live a simpler, more sustainable – and yes, more fulfilling – life. Whether it is spending more time in nature, living more simply and intentionally, choosing local, organic foods or cutting back on waste, there is always something I can do that not only benefits the planet – but also positively impacts my own quality of life. This week, we’re sharing a few tips for more sustainable eating. Why? Sustainable food is good for us, our communities, and the world. And, since we eat three meals a day, there are plenty of opportunities to make a difference and have a positive impact.

3 Tips for More Sustainable Eating:

1.Try zero-waste cooking and shopping. We often think about the actual food when considering how to eat more sustainably. For example, is it local? Is it organic? Where did it come from? But what about the packaging? Next time you are at the store, try to only purchase items that do not generate non-compostable or non-recyclable waste. Look for bulk items. Buy fresh foods. Notice the amount of plastics used in food packaging and try to eliminate.

2. Eat less meat and cheese. Meat and dairy production requires the use of large amounts of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, fuel, feed and water. It also produces greenhouse gases and other pollutants that contaminate our air and water. According to the Environmental Working Group, if you eat one less burger a week, its like taking your car off the road for 320 miles!

3. Eat more local foods – or try the 100 Mile Diet. The 100-mile diet is a great way to learn about your local farming and food production community, get healthier, and choose a sustainable way of eating. It also dramatically lowers your carbon footprint. Rather than eating products produced globally, focus on what is produced in your own bioregion.

Want to brush up on all the other things you can do to eat a healthier, more sustainble diet? Check out NWEI’s Menu for the Future discussion course book or join NWEI’s EcoChallenge this October and choose a Food Challenge. 

Join An Upcoming EcoChallenge Webinar

Registration is now open for the annual EcoChallenge, to be held October 11-25. Over 400 people have already signed up and we hope you’ll join us too for a fun and social way to take action on the issues you care about.

In the next few weeks, we’re offering two webinars around our EcoChallenge events for those who want to learn more and get involved. You can join us on Wednesday, August 30th to learn about the new Campus EcoChallenge, which runs throughout the academic year and is tailored to student and campus life. Or, join us on Wednesday, September 6th for the EcoChallenge Team Captain Webinar which will go over all you need to know in order to create an EcoChallenge team and inspire others to join you.

Join the Campus EcoChallenge Webinar 
Wednesday, August 30th, 9amPST/12pmEST

Want to learn more about what the Campus EcoChallenge is and how it works? This 30 minute webinar is for those who are interested in inspiring change on campus, whether in the classroom or as part of a broader campus initiative. Participants will learn about how Campus EcoChallenge works, how to register and choose actions, and how impact adds up and is tracked.

Join the EcoChallenge Team Captain Webinar 
Wednesday, September 6th at 9amPST/12pmEST

To help you get ready for the EcoChallenge or Campus EcoChallenge, we’re hosting a webinar for team captains! Ready to create a team and get started? This 30 minute webinar is for those ready to take the next step to be a leader in inspiring others to take action. Whatever your role, anyone can create an EcoChallenge team and be an EcoChallenge team captain.

We hope you’ll join us, take the challenge, and see how two weeks of action can add up to a lifetime of positive change!

 

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