Why do we consider change always as giving up on something?

February 17, 2016 | 12:53 am | 2 comments »

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Actions for Change

I joined POW years ago by donating 20$ for the organization. I got a sticker in the mail that I sticked on my computer and felt better. I was fighting climate change.

Years went by and I was still concerned about the climate but continuing to live a busy traveling lifestyle. I was more of a problem than a solution. My climate-invested twenty bucks was not compensating my enormous carbon footprint nor my conscience anymore, as if it ever really did. Fortunately Protect Our Winters expanded to Finland by two winter lovers and environmentally concerned men, Niklas Kaskeala and Arto Sivonen. I contacted them and offered help. I felt that through POW I could make my best impact on the fight. Many others felt the concern about winters and joined too. Together we have managed to launch POW into a great start in Finland. Media has noticed the growing movement and new partners are joining in. People have taken a positive interest and the recent bad winters are making the message tangible and real. People I meet and talk with seem to have one question that stands out: What do you personally do to fight the climate change and what could I do to help?

There are many obvious things that individuals can and should do but at the same time the whole climate change is so overwhelming and complex that individuals actions may seem almost useless. How could any of my actions make any difference when most of the people on the planet don’t know anything about the warming climate, can’t even afford to think about changing their habits or simply do not care. Why would I give up something, if majority of the planet’s population are not even thinking about the environment?

It is true in a sense. We all together should give up so much to be able to save the planet. But maybe that approach is the problem in the first place. Are we really giving up on something if we switch into more sustainable and healthier lifestyle or are we just afraid to brake old habits? Climate change is a negative thing but are the actions against it actually hurting us?

I started splitboarding originally because I wanted to ride new mountains and go deeper into the backcountry but it soon changed my whole perspective on snowboarding. Quality replaced quantity. Splitboarding opened up a new world of snowboarding where there was no rush or race to spots, no lift lines, no expensive lift passes or heli flights, no tracks and no crowds. It is a very immersive way to enjoy the mountains, nature and riding. You have more time to think, listen and learn about both the mountains and yourself . We had this revelation few years back in AK with Jonas Hagström when we took one awesome heliday on a splitboard trip. The day consisted of stable bottomless powder, sunshine and many great lines. It was just perfect. But still we felt better about the lines we chose, climbed and rode ourselves. Those were the best and most memorable ones from the trip. Since that, I have not taken many helirides or traveled obsessively around the world chasing powder. I try to choose the mountains closer to me believing they can give me as much, if not more, than any distant mountain if I just approach them differently and with a new mindset. So, through splitboarding I have cut my carbon footprint down a lot by not even trying! (notion to the critic : Easy for me to say; I did get to ride many places and lot of powder before this change and traveled around but still I claim that climbing and riding mountain yourself is more powerful experience for almost everyone than taking numerous rides up with machine.)

Years ago, I also started thinking about my consumer behaviour. I noticed that I was buying lot of things that I didn’t really use; cheap and bad quality things that needed to be replaced soon. I got some sort of child-like satisfaction from buying new toys that soon were boring. I was stacking up my apartment with things. This all hit me when I had to empty the place under renovation. I had so much stuff. I got rid of some and tried not to collect more. Then we moved together with my girlfriend. Again, I noticed and she pointed out that I still had a lot of stuff I didn’t use. I sold, recycled and gave stuff away. We ended up having more room, extra money and feeling better giving things to people who probably needed them more than we did. Still, I didn’t get rid of this strange attachment to material things completely. I feel that we are brought up to measure our success according to our stuff. It feeds the economy. I totally bought it and still partly do but fortunately there are ways to consume more sustainably. This though, might be positive and hopefully feed the more responsible economy. It needs to grow and might be the booster to the current economical crisis. So, I believe, on some level, it is good that we consume we just have to think how. Easy way to start is changing your electricity producer into eco-energy. This will not cost much more but will make you feel better and encourage companies to produce more eco-energy. Consuming is kind of like voting. In both the choices you make will also fuel the future. We need good choices.

One action that is the easiest to control and has a lot of impact on climate is your diet. This issue brings up a lot of emotions since we like to eat and we don’t like to be told what. Ten years ago I used to joke that plants are what food eats. My diet was based on meat or fish and maybe something on the side. I was shaking my head at vegetarians and wondering why make life more difficult specially when traveling. Since that lot has changed. First, I started switching from processed ingredients to more natural and raw ones. Then, I started to drop meat from my plate and experimenting more on vegetarian options. I soon felt much better, food was tasting better and it was way more diverse. I felt more light and energetic, my digestion worked better and my skin turned care-free. And I suddenly had lot of new flavors when I was not concentrating on the meat as a main ingredient. The change was entirely for the better. After a while, I was not craving meat at all. I actually felt little disgusted eating it after researching about the meat production. I basically dropped all processed meat quickly from my plate. The main drivers leading to the change were taste and how I felt, not the ideological principals based on animal cruelty or environment, those I learnt later on. Nowadays, I eat more plant based food but I still have fish and even game meat rarely on my plate and I eat too much cheese and other dairy products. I believe they might have the same kind of effect on my general feeling as meat. So, now I am experimenting on vegan dishes and changing more and more into plant based diet only because I want to give it a try and I believe I might feel better. I am probably not going to be a full vegan because I think it might be difficult traveling and not easy and tasty all year around in the cold arctic climate but I will give the change a chance.

So in the end, actions that I have taken to change my lifestyle have not felt like giving up at all. Actually, I feel like I am getting more and learning new along the way. Maybe change is not that bad after all. I think I will try to look at it from a positive perspective now on and encourage you to try it out too! I will share these of these experiences and experiments more here at Perceptions on board.

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