When I started gathering up APLS for The Bushel Basket, I was met with two strong reactions. Both involved the acronym APLS - Affluent Persons Living Sustainably.
The first was an objection to the letter A, which stands for Affluent. Many of you weren't sure you qualified as "Affluent" - even when viewed under the Global Rich List or in a non-monetary sense. I wasn't surprised by those comments. A for "Affluent" has been and will continue to be the subject of much debate both in blog land and over at the APLS Facebook Group.
The second reaction, though, caught me off guard. Many folks didn't blink an eye at the controversial "Affluent" but balked, instead, at "Living Sustainably." They argued that, while they very much wanted to live sustainably, they weren't doing it yet. They were trying but hadn't achieved that elusive goal. They couldn't qualify, they thought, for the APLS designation.
If these people - who read eco-blogs daily, who comment or write their own "going green" blogs, who strive to live lighter, who drag spouses and children into a world with more compost and less toxins - didn't consider themselves APLS, how could I?
I make enviro-mistakes daily. I forget and leave a light on. I run out of time and drive instead of bike. I am too tired to make lunch for my husband so he buys something to go - complete with disposable containers and non-local, conventional food. I am not perfect. I have not achieved the nirvana of "living sustainably" and yet I considered myself an APLS. Heck, I scream my APLS-dom to the world with a green superhero as my "photo".
Then I realized that I do those things not because I live sustainably but because I try.
The APLS moniker points to the dichotomy of living sustainably in an affluent society. There is something special about those of us who want to live with less in a society that urges us to live with more. There is something unique, extraordinary about that quality. And it is an attribute shared by virtually every person who purposefully reads my blog or any of the blogs listed in the Bushel Basket.
Am I living sustainably? I do my best. I live with less even though I can afford more. I shop at thrift stores and love it. I buy from the farmers' market and adore my friends there. I ride my bike and soak up the sun and wind. I give to others instead of buying things I do not need. I organize carpools. I plant a garden. I make cucumber relish. I work to build a community and sometimes I even succeed.
It is not perfection that makes us sustainable superheroes. In fact, perfection is not sustainable. What makes me and you a superhero is our desire to live sustainably. Our ability to see the impact of our actions on others and on the environment. And our vision that extends beyond what is good for us next week to what is good for the planet in twenty years. If we stumble, we can't fly, we've lost our cape or can't find a decent phone booth in which to don our costume - those things are irrelevant.
What does matter is the desire and the effort. For those of you who woke wondering what you could do to lessen your footprint, pick up a cape, slap on your mask, and grab an alter ego (you don't think I go by Green Bean all the time do you?). Embrace your inner superhero. Try to live sustainably.
Enter the APLS Carnival by submitting your post on What Living Sustainably Means to You to aplscarnival (at) gmail (dot) com by August 12. Check out The APLS Blog to find out which superhero was the first to step up and become a regional organizer.