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A New Awakening: The Shift I’ve Made Towards Sustainable Living

September 10, 2018

I feel a shift in myself. A new awakening.

It started with awareness, then anger, now confusion. But I’ve welcomed it all. It feels like I’m headed into uncharted territory and I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I’ve gone far enough that I can’t look back.

This quote was sent to me by a dear friend recently and I find calm in it:

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
-Christopher Columbus (Not that I love that guy, but those words are pretty poetic!)

Sustainable Living via @elanaloo travel blogger

I’ve been stuck lately. Like brakes coming to a screeching halt then can’t get the motor to start again kind of stuck. Every time I start to write about how I’m feeling, I trip over my words and can’t seem to illustrate what I’m feeling but I want to do my best to write it out, process it and share it.

At first, I thought I was feeling stuck because we’ve been on the go non-stop since June. Living out of suitcases (practically living out of our car going from job to job, house to house) this summer, lacking routine. But then I began to dig a bit deeper. And there’s more there. There’s the feeling of my values shifting and growing – and feeling stuck on how to communicate that.

I think we as individuals and as business owners have a chance to make a big impact. With our choices. With our actions. With what we share and promote. In 2018, it’s like a veil was lifted from over my eyes. It’s been a long time coming but many experiences this year woke me up and allowed me to see this world more clearly.

I’m not sure what the first thing was that made brought on this new look on life and new awareness (there have been so many) but I remember one being the state of Hawai’i banning plastic bags. As in, if you don’t have reusable bags with you, you have to carry your groceries out in your hands. Talk about a reminder! I had never thought about plastic consumption, especially by the masses until I was challenged by this. I had a conversation with someone who shared how many bags were eliminated from landfills by just one state banning them. Mind blowing. I was intrigued and proud of the people who pushed the law through in Hawai’i and started telling friends on the mainland about it.

The next big eye-opener came later. It was the plastic on the beach and in the ocean where we live in Hawai’i. . . Not trash left by tourists or locals but micro-plastics dotting the entire coastline and washing up in the waves. I might have noticed it before but last fall I really starting taking note of it after spending day after day at the beach while Aaron surfed. I started noticing there was much more plastic on the beaches than seashells. This sparked a lightbulb. I became more open to reading articles and watching videos about plastic pollution. I sought out beach clean ups only to be disappointed when there would be plastic trash bags handed out to pick up the plastic pollution from the beaches and plastic water bottles handed out to volunteers. “Whoa. This is a huge problem,” I thought. From that point, I sought out experts and soaked up as much information as I could from them – one being the founder of Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i, Kahi, who I met on a trip this spring. He is the one who really helped me understand how large of an issue this is. He said:

“Beach clean ups are awesome and important but not the answer. It’s like trying to empty the bathtub with the tap still running. We must stop the tap.

Meaning, we need to stop the CREATION and USE of plastic, rather than simply recycling and cleaning it up.

During this same time, I was learning about the death of our coral reefs and how it is directly related to the sunscreen people wear. This was evident proof that our lifestyle choices are having a negative effect on the ocean. The coral reefs located in tourist areas are the worst affected – aka all the tourists buying and applying toxic Banana Boat and Coppertone sunscreens only to jump in the ocean minutes later were killing our ocean ecosystem. So everytime I would go to the beach and watch uneducated consumers spray or slather that shit on, I would be angry. I started researching and sharing about ocean-safe sunscreens, hoping to educate as many people as possible. But I was also finding it frustrating that most non-toxic, ocean-safe sunscreen came in plastic tubes which would be adding to the landfills and plastic pollution.

This is the point where you are thinking what I’m thinking: Okay, Negative Nancy…You can’t focus on every little thing, you can’t win that way.

And I agree. That’s where my frustration lies. I am a perfectionist (trying to learn not to be) and I perciferate on things that I want to change. It’s the truth and I know that.

BUT can you also see where my mind is? How tragic this all feels and how badly I want to create change?

I think passion and dedication can be the vehicle for change and I am going to stop being embarrassed by how much I care, feeling like I’m too much or like I need to ‘get off my soapbox.‘ The funny thing about this? No one has uttered any words to make me feel this way. *I AM* the one that has put these notions in my head. I am worried what others will think about me sharing this passion since these topics are new and since I’m not an expert.

But every time I learn something, I feel this desire to share. The more I learn, the more I’ve began to realize how much our choices and actions as humans have on the world around us and how our ignorant, blissful way of modern living is harming the very place that gave us life. Now, I understand to many this is not news and you are already doing so much on the personal level and legislative level – but to others this might be way out there and new information. Growing up in the land-locked, highly-materialistic state of Utah where consumerism is part of socializing and status, I didn’t ever question the choices I made in my day-to-day. I often shopped at outlet stores, bought fast fashion clothes, ate fast food in styrofoam containers, microwaved frozen food shipped from who-knows-where, “got rid of” anything that no longer served me without a thought of where it went, and the list goes on. I consumed without thought, without any understanding of WHY I lived how I lived.

And when I started sharing my life online, it was an extension of that, because I didn’t have the knowledge I have now. I thought I was being “intentional”(which I was to the best of my knowledge) because I was in the middle of my health journey with food and I felt like I had a lot to share there but I didn’t think to look past the impact on my body; into where the plastic containers that carried my supplements went, or how they were manufactured. Years later, I am now starting to look deeper and now that I am much more aware, I want to do better. I acknowledge how others have influenced me to do better and want to be aware that what I’m sharing online can have a negative or positive impact.

I am still far from living a fully sustainable life: I’m not zero waste, I don’t grow all my own food, I have a long way to go. But over this past year, so many of my values have shifted, changed and grown. There are things I care deeply about that I didn’t know about, let alone care about, just a few years ago. And much of my spirit is angry that others aren’t making similar shifts, aren’t understanding their impact as individuals, but definitely as business owners. So I have taken to social media to educate others and share what I’ve learned – hoping I don’t sound preachy. I’ve shared with reservation and worry. I don’t want to shame individuals (although I am angry inside!!!) but instead want to bring awareness to the situation so that others can have the same sort of awakening I have and make changes. Be advocates for change themselves. Do our part and VOTE especially to make changes on a huge legislative scale.

Here’s what I’m currently shifting and working on that feels good:

Educating myself on my impact, thinking how the products I use impact our earth, consuming little to no meat (here’s why), eliminating every ounce of plastic that I can (by using reusable shopping bags, reusable baggies, reusable water bottle, etc), shopping and eating locally and seasonally, buying from ethical and sustainable clothing companies (and thrifting!), shopping less in general and turning to organic, nature based options. These are just a few things that I’ve given effort this past year – I’m happy to write a more in-depth posts about lifestyle changes we can all make if you’re interested! 

Through witnessing and learning all that I have over the past year or so, I am definitely feeling a giant shift as a consumer, a blogger and a business owner. Since I couldn’t shake how strange and creatively blocked I have felt all summer, I have given myself some space and time to process everything re-evaluate my values and intentions in what I’m sharing and why. I mapped out what I was feeling and what it was stemming from – which is how this all came to the surface. I have felt muted and self-conscious in what I am sharing. I have felt the need to share things with more depth. I think there’s a reason each of us feels called to and pulled towards the things we do and want to start embracing how I feel and what I want to share!

I have talked to my close loved ones and peers I admire on what to do with this weighing heavy on my heart – the pressure I feel having a voice online and being someone that people turn to for advice, inspiration (I hope) and ideas. Through our conversations, I have realized that I felt a disconnect between what I was sharing and how I was living. That I wanted to share confidently but was instead muting myself and holding everything back. I want to be a storyteller again – not just my adventure or entrepreneurial stories but ones that are much bigger and more important than me. I want to tell you the deep stories that live inside me rather than the surface level ones I *think* you want to hear.

I am going to be even more intentional in who I partner with to make sure that each brand I share or work with aligns with my values fully. I want to work with people who don’t just talk the talk, but truly walk the walk. I don’t want to just share companies that sort of get it or ‘mean well.’ This is hard because working with companies to create content is one of the ways I make my living but it feels the best when I work on projects with companies who completely GET IT and stand for the same things I do. Who are working to reduce their impact and waste, paving the way for how businesses should operate and making efforts to better our earth, not hurt it. Who are ‘for good’ companies that are actually doing good, not just using that as a marketing ploy towards millennials. 

I don’t want to promote conscious consumerism, but instead conscious and intentional living. Not promoting over consumption or purchases that feel good, but educating you on the foundation so that you can make swaps in your life and the best decisions for yourself. I am going to resist the urge to share something because it’s trendy, instead doing my research and welcoming things into my life that will last a long time. I want to share what’s going on in the world, what I’m learning about sustainable living and my lifestyle changes to support both. I want to share stories that are deep, not just surface level. This post is not meant to say that I am the perfect example of how to live sustainably. I am working towards better and the point of writing this all out was to share the journey I’ve been on this year and making a statement that I want to use my influence and platform for good, not to just share with my ‘best intentions’ and not thought all the way through.

I want to live life on purpose again, without worry or disconnect from here on out. By sharing where my mind is at now, it feels like I’ve drawn a line in the sand for myself. Knowing where my values lie and what I’m willing to participate in and what I’m not.

Another quotes that has been swirling around in my mind has been:

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
– Mary Oliver

My hope? To never forget how precious it is. To live well. To be thoughtful and intentional with what I take from the earth and what I give back. To speak truth. To be empathetic. To continue learning and loving. To create. To help. To leave things better than when I found them. To make time for the simplest of things because they often have the most beauty. To love. To give. To be in the company of good people.

The intentions that come to our mind when we ask yourself that question must be what we do with our lives and our businesses. Bring our hopes for the course of our lives into everything we do. This is my hope moving forward – to continue to edit my life with fierceness, since it’s our greatest masterpiece of all. I will still be sharing entrepreneurship, wellness and travel here – these are my passions. And now there will be an underlying and uniting theme: sustainability.

Sustainable living.
Sustainable travel.
Sustainable businesses.

I can’t promise there will be perfection, but I promise my heart and soul will be in it all. 

Thanks for reading! I'm a photographer, writer & environmental advocate excited to be sharing regenerative solutions, ideas & concepts for our lives & businesses with you. 

I'M ELANA JADALLAH

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  1. DEBBIE says:

    Dear dear Alana,
    Just a beautiful story. I feel all of your hopes & needs. I am of the same thought. We now live most of our time in California. I use my own bags always, at first it was a bit of a hassle. Mostly remembering them to go into the store with me. I try not to use straws. I have been in Salt Lake City, visiting for a few days. I took some friends to La Chaille French Restaurant, much to my surprise we all got Bloody Mary’s with green celery straws. They are eatable a bit stringy. But most importantly biodegradable. Yah, in Utah WTH?? I believe they are made from a bamboo plant?
    Love your writing, love you.
    Stay well, in all your growing adventures. Meghan is in her 2nd. Year at the University of Utah was on the honor roll last year, she also has a few degrees from the community college she went to for 4 years. She is still the apple of my eye. Sweet girl with a large heart.
    Love to you your partner & your Mom. ❤️?❤️??

  2. Raechelle says:

    You are an incredible human! You have taught me + inspired me so much this summer to live my life with more intention. Keep spreading the good word, own it because I know 110% that you walk the walk + it comes from your heart! XO

  3. Dr. Nancy Jadallah says:

    Beautiful insight and self discovery. I look forward to honor and applaud you intentional effort and outcomes.

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