Eco-friendly, “No Nonsense” Living

From serenbe.com

From serenbe.com

By: Megan Porter

After hiking in the mountains for more than 10 miles a day every weekend this past summer, almost every pair of socks I owned turned brown and became so worn I could see through them. Fortunately, the next time we ventured into civilization we went to Wal-Mart, the epitome of our human civilization, and it was able to solve my problem.

Typically, this task presented more challenges than I expected. Ankle, crew, knee-high, black, white, thick, thin, or any other kind of sock imaginable was represented. So I stuck with my system of narrowing it down by what’s cheapest, and then by the kind that was bland enough so people wouldn’t think I was majoring in Clowning 101. Done.

It wasn’t until the next day after I opened the package that I realized they weren’t the absolute blandest socks possible. Across the top, just below the toes, were the words “No nonsense.” Every single pair said the same exact thing, and I was surprised because those words weren’t on the packaging. My friend and I got a laugh out of them when I showed her, but that was the last time I thought about those mysterious words.

I still wear the socks today, and every time I put them on or glance down I see those words, “No nonsense” staring back at me. One morning the other week, I woke up early to fit in a morning run before a difficult day. It was cold and dark and I could hear my warm bed taunting me, promising that if I climbed back in all my worries would vanish. But then the socks caught my eye and again I saw, “No nonsense.”

I wasn’t exactly suddenly filled with the newfound strength and inspiration like one gets after watching “Rocky,” but something struck a cord in me and before I knew it I was out the door and jogging down the sidewalk. Maybe I was still so sleep-deprived I wasn’t fully functioning yet, but for the first time since I bought the socks in July I was stuck on those words.

What if I lived my entire life to the motto of “No nonsense”? Especially as an extremely busy college student, it’s hard to keep your life in perspective.  We wake up every day to a world with enough food, clothing and energy that we can afford to waste some. What if we cut out some of that “nonsense”?

The 170 residents of Serenbe don’t have to imagine it; they live it every day. The 1,000-acre hamlet of Serenbe in northwestern Georgia has been featured on CNN, “USA Today,” “The New York Times” and more as a model community promoting land preservation, agriculture, energy efficiency, walkability and community living. In 2007, Steve and Marie Nygren and Rawson Haverty decided to fight back against the wave of development that was closing in on the beautiful Chattahoochee Hills, with the formation of the Chattachoochee Hill County Alliance.  It ensures that at least 70 percent of the 4,000 acres in the county will remain greenspace. In addition to land conservation, the community itself uses clean technologies and green practices such as LEED certified buildings, the farm-to-table movement between the farms and three organic restaurants, alternative fuel usage, geo-thermal heating and more. The monthly water usage by the community is 25 percent lower than the national average with minimal landscaping, dual-flush toilets and natural buffers for stormwater treatment. All of these devices and tactics can be used in any kind of house or building and are available to ordinary citizens.

But, overall Serenbe’s eco-friendly practices are a small part of its lifestyle. Serenbe also promotes a culture that focuses on creativity and intellectual growth as a whole with community events such as art classes, music performances, group hikes and more. It seeks to preserve the traditional feelings of togetherness and exploration that has been lost in a world dominated by technology that isolates and simplifies our lives.

So, will one day every town in America be like Serenbe? Probably not. Serenbe is a utopia in a world where change, good or bad, is occurring at a rate faster than ever before. Our challenge today is to decide which of these changes is “nonsense” or not.

If we say we value things such as integrity, community and health, then why does it seem we are doing the opposite of what we say? It seems like a day doesn’t go by without another breaking news story discovering another leading politician involved in a scandal. The latest story features New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who is currently under investigation for the suspicious George Washington Bridge lane closings that caused numerous delays for thousands of citizens. If authority figures are the ones leading society into the future, then why don’t they reflect the good we elected them to achieve? This is an answer I don’t think is taught in school. It is up to us to create the answer that our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will follow.

Basic moral values and practices are no longer considered standard. Humans seem to be on the path of destruction regarding society and the physical health of our planet. If we cannot rely on the higher powers of politicians, celebrities, athletes and others who uphold the structure of our society, then we must do as Ghandi says and “be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s amazing how influential one individual, or one small community, can be. Start small by putting away your cell phone and holding the door open for the next person. Pick the styrofoam cup out of the trash someone else threw away that could have been recycled. It’s time we stopped the nonsense of lies and wastefulness. To copy Nike, it’s time to wake up, get going, and “just do it,” for the sake of doing good in our world.

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