09 12 31 Today At Home - More Power than you Thought!

by Gabriel Gagne

I grew up in a Quebec town about the size of Ste. Anne near a river five times the size of our Seine River. I enjoyed nature and took pleasure in fishing, canoeing, snowshoeing and other outdoor activity. But over time I also saw biological diversity decrease. It was during that time that the local die casting plant accidentally spilt 600 gallons of cyanide in MY river, killing river life for many kilometres. Through the media, I became aware of other environmental catastrophes. 

As my awareness increased, I realised I wanted to do something in response. I couldn’t just do nothing. I attended college and became a nature/heritage interpreter. This allowed me to tell people how nature is important to our personal health and survival, and how we are having negative impacts on it. That was good, but I needed solutions. I also became increasingly aware of my own negative impact on the planet. One day I decided to actually write what I called my personal ecologization plan.

After inventorying what I consumed, I analysed how my consumption choices were polluting the earth. Following this, I looked for and identified better consumption choices. I divided my consumption choices into categories: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, energy and found that for every category the same conclusion emerged: reduce where possible, then buy/produce local and organic. 

I believe I have found something important, universal and empowering. I believe that my best chance for a positive influence on my fellow citizens is to show them an attainable lifestyle model. For more that 20 years I have been trying to reduce my needs and to buy/produce local and organic. I am now living in a well insulated house with predominantly south facing windows. The house has thermal mass to store heat. I use local wood to heat my house. I buy no veggies. In my house I eat veggies produced in my garden and I am on my way to meet my needs in fruits. I buy (or trade) locally produced milk products, eggs and meats.

I have also discovered that these goals are an active, efficient, non-violent way of resisting the pollution of corporations and governments. Today, many multinationals exploit poor peoples, paying them low wages and driving them off their lands so they can sell food products to the rich – us. Sustainability must support justice for all – both today and for future generations. Sustainability must mean that the person who produces for us gets a fair wage, and ideally we need to know him/her as person. Geographic distance is the enemy of such knowledge and encourages indifference.

I joined the South Eastman Transition Initiative because it is urgent that we change our lifestyle. I don’t think I can become totally self-sufficient in everything. I need help. I need a community that shares my goals. I offer my services to this community and I ask for help in this walk towards sustainability.