Lifestyle Innovation

I once got a new roommate who found himself having to change a lot in order to adhere to the house rules. We had a number of ‘green’ practices in place he wasn’t at all used to: clothes were line-dried, dishwater was saved for watering the garden or flushing the toilet, reusable bags were to be taken grocery shopping, and we composted. All this was new to him.

One day a friend of his observing these lifestyle changes chided him about it. “Look at you, changing yourself to conform to someone else’s values. So much for being your own man.”

The comment struck a nerve and so he brought it up to me. Was it good for him to conform to all these practices that he wasn’t yet entirely sold on?

I thought about it for a while and then it hit me: Wait a minute, I told him. It’s not like the way you’re used to living — using the machine dryer on warm sunny days, wasting dishwater that could be put to good use, needlessly burdening the municipal trash system with nutrient-rich compostables — has been forged out of some thoughtful plan; some desire for authenticity and self expression. They are customs we have thoughtlessly inherited from the society we’ve been born into. No one uses a ‘disposable’ plastic bag for ten minutes before throwing it away because they’ve considered the virtue of such a practice. We have automatically adopted such customs without any consideration at all.

This made him feel a lot better about adopting these new practices, but also troubled him. He began wondering — how much of his behavior had been inherited thoughtlessly?

The answer is probably staggering. Which is why I get so excited about lifestyle innovation and reform. Each year I have found new and better practices to live by, each year I find old, outdated, previously-unexamined behaviors that must go. And so far as I can tell, the sky is the limit. Our lifestyles are far from being kind to this planet and each other. Our lifestyles could be unimaginably improved.

The industrial food system that predominates today is a massive example of a disastrous inheritance that few remember receiving; a system that, to many of us, was and always has been. Time now to reconsider, or perhaps consider for the first time, as the case may be.

Raleigh City Farm aims to pioneer urban agriculture as a necessary revision to city life. We invite you to join the movement to trade a detrimental food system that none of us intended, for one that is thoughtful, considered, and intentional.

Josh Whiton