I was scrolling through social media the other day when something caught my eye. It was bold words against a solid background that read: It would be better to have thousands attempting to live a sustainable lifestyle than one person doing it perfectly.
That statement really struck a chord with me.
As a child, I wasn’t familiar with the word sustainability. I didn’t have any mentors telling me to avoid single-use products, to choose local and sustainably grown foods, or to try composting. I lived in the Orange County, California bubble and was jealous of kids whose parents bought cases of Arrowhead water that were easy to grab and go while I had to stand at the faucet, tediously filling my reusable jug (Side note: my parents only gave me a reusable bottle because it was cheaper than buying cases of single-use ones).
As I grew older, I became more aware of how our daily choices impact the environment. I attended a summer camp that promoted organic farming and sustainable living, I chose an Environmental Science class for my elective in high school, I proudly carried a reusable water bottle, and I began honing on buzzwords like eco-friendly and sustainability. As my eyes opened, I began to realize just how big the problem was and how small of an impact my daily choices made.
Upon graduating college, I began working as a journalist, pursuing water sports and outdoor style magazines, incorporating pro-environment and conservation pieces whenever possible. When I linked up with PaddleXaminer, I began writing a “Keep It Green” column that gave me my own platform to dive deeper into the issues while simultaneously promoting sustainably minded brands that strive to part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem.
All that being said, am I perfect environmentalist? No. In fact, I’m far from it. And after years of silently beating myself up when I forget to bring my reusable cup I’ve come to learn that it’s okay.
I’m proud of the pro-environment choices I do make. I ride a sustainably made NSP SUP and surfboard—I’m stoked on reducing my impact and the opportunity to share the story of my sled with others. I wear bikinis made from recycled ocean fabrics. I choose clothes made from sustainably made fabrics. I carry a reusable cup and glass straw in my pack. I make my own natural sunscreen.
But I also have traditionally made boards in my quiver—I have a 12’6” Riviera raceboard, a fish I got at a board swap sale, a foam Costco Wavestorm, and a Stewart log from the 70’s. I have bikinis and clothes made from traditional fabrics and in all likelihood shipped overseas from China. My biodegradable shampoo comes in a plastic bottle. Are these things ideal? No. Would it make more sense to discard them and replace them with sustainably made alternatives? No.
These products already exist. The deed is done. At this point, the best thing I can do is get the most life out of them as possible. And when it does come time to replace them, then I can seek out sustainable alternatives.
No one is perfect—in any aspect of life. If you care about the environment and the future of our planet, then do your best. Educate yourself. Make sustainable choices where you can. Pick up trash. Spread the world. And if you mess up, let it go and try and do better next time. Because it doesn’t take one person living a perfectly sustainably lifestyle to alter the future of our planet, it takes thousands doing the best they can.
My name is Rebecca Parsons and I am proud to call myself an imperfect eco warrior. Will you join the fight? The choice is yours.