Jennifer: Today, we have a great guest. Her name is Jenise Fryatt. She is the co-host of The Sustainable Living Podcast. As you know, I always like to read the bios of my guests so I do not get anything wrong. Jenise is a co-host with Marianne West of the Self, here I go, “Self Reliant Living Show,” no, The Sustainable Living Podcast, an hour-long weekly podcast that provides tips, tools, and tactics for living a heart-centered life that honors Mother Earth and her inhabitants. She’s also a digital content marketing strategist, a homesteader with her certificate in permaculture design, and a yoga instructor at Big Bear Yoga. Welcome, Jenise.
Jenise: Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Jennifer: Oh yes. I just want to say that I’m one of your biggest fans of your podcast. It’s just wonderful to listen to.
Jenise: Well thank you all. I am thrilled and that’s a special honor coming from you. I think I told you before, you’ve been on my radar for quite some time. I’ve been sharing your wonderful blog posts with our community for quite a while now. I’m thrilled to actually have an opportunity to meet you face-to-face.
Jennifer: Oh, thank you for your kind words. For those people that don’t know who you are, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what’s led you to become a co-host of this podcast, what your background is?
Jenise: Sure. I think going back, my whole life I’ve just had a very strong connection with nature even though I grew up in North Long Beach, which was at the time and probably still is, a very sketchy area of southern California. It was kind of urban sprawl suburbia, lots of concrete, lots of brown sky. I didn’t get out to nature much, but when I did, I just was enchanted. I had a very strong connection there. As I went through school, I wanted to be a journalist. That’s where my propensities were. I pursued that, but I always had this feeling like … I remember graduating from college and really being hit with where we were at with the planet, and what we were doing to it, and how the system was just set up so that that’s all that could happen is we could only destroy the planet. I remember thinking, “I’d love to do something that helps.” It was at the beginning of my life as a young adult so I continued on my path with journalism maybe hoping that would do it.
I had my kids in the early 90s and that got me back on the path again because I got very involved with La Leche League. For those who don’t know about La Leche League, it’s a breastfeeding support group but really, it’s a radical revolutionary group disguised as a breastfeeding support group. That’s been my experience and I think Marianne would probably agree with me on that because I started to learn to think for myself. Le Leche really encourages people to not take what everybody tells you to do as apparent, just at face value and just do it because everybody’s doing it.
Jennifer: I love that.
Jenise: Yeah. You start with breastfeeding, which at the time, was not that encouraged, but you also look at stuff like, maybe I shouldn’t put my baby in a room and let her cry it out ’cause the doctor tells me to, those kinds of things. You can deny that there is a very strong connection with nature here, with all of this. That go me on the road again and I also wanted to be the kind of person that I wanted my kids to be because I realized that that was really the best way to be a parent, is by example.
Jennifer: It’s amazing what happens when you do become a parent because it’s like, “These little people are watching me. What kind of example do I want to set for them?” I think of that often, still now, and I’m thinking, “What do I need to do to set the best example for them?” It’s a very strong feeling that I think never leaves you after you become a parent.
Jenise: No, it’s so motivating.
Jennifer: Yeah, that’s it. It’s motivating and it’s very powerful. Tell us a little bit about your podcast and why you started it. You were telling us about your change in thinking after you became a parent. Why a podcast and what is your mission with the podcast?
Jenise: Well, before I tell you how I got there, basically the mission is, underlying everything, helping people to see the more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible, helping people to envision it. I don’t know about you. 10 to 20 years ago for me, as much as I was hooked into Mother Earth, as much as I was following the things I had learned in La Leche League, I still couldn’t envision how this could be different, how we could get away from this system that’s totally destroying the planet and ourselves. That’s really the underlying mission behind the podcast.
How I got there, suffice to say, on my journey I did a lot of things. One of the things was that I became very good, not very good, decent at social media marketing because our business, which is an audio visual business in 2008, we were really hit hard by that big economic meltdown. I stumbled on social media and I found out how to do it. I learned by clicking links on Twitter how to do that and then people started hiring me. As I went through that, it was nice to finally get to the point where I was making a decent living from myself, but I kept going back. I started to realize where we were at and I knew there had to be different systems. I was seeing other people talking about them sporadically but I was looking for a show where they would show this, but nobody was doing it. I thought, “Okay.” Then Marianne and I met on another social media network. We both had some similar backgrounds, we both have the same feeling like we wanted to help people to see a different world, and we decided to start the podcast. We started it two years ago.
Jennifer: Wow. That’s great. It’s like there’s a lot of people who want to make a difference but they’re just not sure how to take the first step. I love that you’re filling that gap, that need there. You were talking about La Leche. Let’s go back to that for a second. If somebody has never heard of that before, you’re saying it was a radical group. Talk about it in terms of what you got out of it but what is it designed to do? What is it that, obviously that changed you ’cause that was a big part of your transformation, but in terms of people searching it out, what would they expect?
Jenise: The main thing that La Leche League does, and it does it very well, is help women who want to breastfeed their children. It keeps them from being discouraged. It helps them when they run into a stumbling block like I did with my daughter. She had food allergies when I was starting to introduce food and all of a sudden, she was waking up every night every 20 minutes at night. I went to my La Leche League leader and she said, “You might try this lactation consultant.” This lactation consultant showed me ways that I could determine what she was allergic to and eliminate those things from my diet.
Those are the kinds of things that a person that’s sitting at home trying to do this by themselves would be often very discouraged by and maybe give up on breastfeeding. That’s the number one thing they do, but they do a lot of education on other things like healthy nutrition for your family, other ideas of creating a bond with your child that maybe go against what the norm is or what doctors say that you should do sometimes. Obviously, most doctors want the best but a lot of times, they are somewhat influenced by these pharmaceutical industries or these formula companies that give them free samples and such. Those were some of the things that I was made aware of through La Leche League.
Jennifer: That’s great. You were talking about doctors and I think it’s really the way they’re trained in medical school. I think it’s changing here in recent years but when I had little ones, there wasn’t a lot of doctors that, I don’t want to say “allowed” but they didn’t really allow a lot of the natural techniques into their practice. That wasn’t in their thinking. Thank goodness it’s just now starting to change. You were saying 90s you had yours and I had mine just around 2000 or so and it still was like that. The doctors were just very conventional and if breastfeeding didn’t work, oh well. They just went onto the next thing.
Jenise: Yeah, and I would also say La Leche League encouraged and supported me in having my next child at home. I had a home birth for my second and those are things I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been around people who had done it, and could tell me their stories, and could kind of assuage some of my concerns. It got me on this path of, maybe the things that everyone says you need to do, maybe I need to really look at everything like that instead of just taking it for granted that the establishment knows what’s best. That’s why I call it a radical revolutionary group because it encourages people not to conform. It encourages people to think for themselves.
Jennifer: Yeah, I love that, when you meet people and you realize what’s possible. That’s great. Let’s talk a little bit about our society and culture today because we’ve sort of been doing that in a roundabout way. What scares you today about our society, and our culture, and the way it’s going? At the same time, tell me what’s giving you hope.
Jenise: I’m so glad you asked me that right after the La Leche League question. I love your questions, by the way. They rock. The number one thing that I’ve come to be very concerned about is people’s lack of being able to think for themselves and really dig into information for themselves. That’s how I grew up. I grew up, if it was on the news, it’s true. If your doctor told you to do it, it’s good for your health. If they allowed it to be in the stores, it can’t be bad for you. I think most people now, there’s a level of waking up that even if you didn’t go to La Leche League, you know that those things are really not true, but there’s still a big segment of people that still don’t question and that’s what scares me.
Jennifer: Yeah, I agree. It is scary when somebody just conforms and becomes a sheeple in the world. That’s not a good thing.
Jenise: No, but I do think there is an awakening happening so there’s a lot of hope here.
Jennifer: Yes. Hopefully with podcasts like yours, people are waking up and thinking about these things because I think that’s another thing. They haven’t questioned it because it doesn’t occur to them a lot of times. They’re busy doing something else. We have such busy lives and all of that, so I don’t think it’s really an intelligence problem or even a caring problem. I think it’s more of an attention problem because they just don’t know to give attention to stuff like this.
Jenise: Yeah, you bring up a really good point. The thing is we work so hard. We’re working 40 hours a week plus and by the time we get home, we’re just too tired to go looking on the internet to see if that thing that we heard on the news is really true. It takes some effort. It takes a lot of effort but to be honest, it’s really worth it and it might lead you to a point where you don’t have to work so hard and maybe you can jump off that hamster wheel.
Jennifer: Yeah, I agree. Define sustainability and what that means to you.
Jenise: Sustainability is when something can be sustained indefinitely. That’s sustainability. Sustainable living is living that can be sustained indefinitely, that will not crash, that you’re not gonna run out of food, that you’re not gonna poison the planet with everything that you’re doing. That’s what it is to me.
Jennifer: I feel like community is so important in there, your local community and depending on each other locally. These days, we’re so connected but oftentimes to other people that are far away from us, which there’s nothing wrong with that, but then we lose that local connection and we don’t tend to nurture that as well. I feel like that’s something that people need to be aware of. Their attention needs to be on that.
Jenise: Huge. Here’s an example. I could be throwing stuff away and poisoning everything. For me, while I’m living, it’s sustainable. I’m not gonna die from it ’cause it’s going away from me. However, my children, or other people, my community will be affected by that eventually. When I talk about sustainability I always think about community. Humans, that’s how we are meant to live. We’re meant to live in a community. It’s not natural for us to live in these little silos separate from everybody. I think that’s part of the reason we’ve been able to go down this very destructive route because there hasn’t been anything stopping us. We’re very vulnerable, is what I mean to say, when we are on our own, but when we’re in a community and we see something wrong, there are things that we can do about it. That’s a big part of our mission as well, trying to help people.
By the way, online communities matter as well. People tend to discount it. I want to commend you on your amazing online community building skills. It matters because you’re finding your tribe. When people see you, they go, “Oh my God, I love Jennifer. She rocks and she’s part of my tribe. I have to get in touch with her.” That’s powerful, even if they live hundreds of miles away.
Jennifer: Just like you were saying with the La Leche League, it gives you motivation and it gives you power to go make a difference in your local community. It’s a nice circle if you can balance that out.
Jenise: I was just gonna say our self sufficiency skills are multiplied exponentially. Everything that we want to do with sustainable living or with self reliance is just really magnified when you are hooked in with a community that wants to do the same thing.
Jennifer: I agree totally. Let’s talk a little bit about labels. Do you consider yourself a crunchy mama or a neo hippie? Are you more on the Chris Martenson prosperity type? Is it all rolled into one? Do you even put any stock into labels? We’re talking about online community and ways to find different people who are like-minded. Could you speak to that a little bit?
Jenise: I find things in common with every one of those labels but I do believe that it is difficult to use a label because too often, you alienate people who feel like they don’t fit in with that. Suffice it to say, I am a hippie for sure. I have always been a crunchy mom. I’ve been a health fanatic ever since I can remember, trying to make sure that my kids didn’t get sick. I am a prosperity person because I think that all of this, when we get it down, it naturally leads to prosperity, not just for me but for everybody. It can be a win/win situation. So yeah, there you go. I got tie dye on.
Jennifer: So you’re a hippie. Yeah, I love that. If you are just joining us, we’re talking with Jenise Fryatt from The Sustainable Podcast. I would love to have you comment. Ask her questions if you are on Facebook. I’m monitoring, tripping over my words, but I’m monitoring the comments on Periscope as well. Go ahead and comment and then on YouTube, I see you guys are over there commenting a bit and hello to you. I’m so thrilled that you are here. We’re talking and please ask questions so we know that you’re there and we want you to be a part of the conversation. Jenise, you live on some property, right? You consider yourself a homesteader. How has that affected the way that you feel like you’re giving back to your community? Is that something that you feel like everybody needs to do or is that just for you? Explain that and the reasons that you do homestead.
Jenise: Okay. Everybody has to approach this from where they’re at, first of all. I think it’s very counterproductive to say something like, “Hey, I’m a homesteader. Everybody needs to be doing this.” Can you imagine how that would work out? There’s not enough land in this country, but there’s lots of people that love living in the city and they can be sustainable too. They can do a whole lot of these things that I’m doing on the homestead. For me, I really wanted to get out in nature. I did want to have a little bit of land. I wanted to grow stuff. I’m still at the beginning of this journey. We moved here three years ago and we’ve got our chickens. My husband was wonderful, he made sure I got a really nice critter proof garden with raised beds in there. I’m still working out the whole gardening time table here ’cause we have a very short gardening season. It’s a work in progress. I’m really grateful that I have my co-host, Marianne West, to be my mentor. She’s my homestead mentor even though she lives in San Diego.
Jennifer: Yes, she’s in the comments, by the way. She is there if you have questions for her as well. She’s on Facebook. I’m sorry.
Jenise: Marianne rocks. If you go to our Facebook page, you’ll see some of the videos that she has put up showing her gardening the stuff. I’m just floored every time she does it, the abundance that she has there. She really understand permaculture and has really put it into practice there. I’m grateful that I have her. It’s also stuff like baking bread, like you were talking about, the sourdough starter. I love stuff like that. I’m in the process now, I make my own bread. I’ve gotten in the habit. I make my own organic sourdough spelt bread. I ferment my own vegetables, sauerkraut, pickles. I love that and my health is so much better. It’s never been as good as it is now.
It’s a selfish thing, it helps me and my family, but it also, I think, helps the community because I’ve cut my waste way down. I’m not contributing to purchasing poison. In my local community, I have worked and I’m continuing to work to get a group together that’s aware of these things and hopefully maybe even start a food co-op of some kind that we can all have some local economic stability by producing our own food because here, it’s kind of like an island. If something happens with the weather, grocery trucks get stuck down the hill. It’s a very real thing here. If we have community, it’s gonna be a lot easier to meet those challenges.
Jennifer: That leads right into my next question and that is, I think online, well in general, a lot of the people that I’ve talked to are interested in making, homesteading, farming, growing, healthier, more organic, and all of that. That’s certainly the angle that I come at it from but if you get out there, you get out in a place, in a community that’s more rural, there are people that have been there for a really long time. They are used to doing things in a certain way. My experience, yours might be different, I don’t know. I’d like you to speak to that, but my experience is that if they’ve been there a while, and that is their life, and that’s the way they’ve grown up, they tend to be more conventional in the terms of using pesticides and trying to grow the most so they’re gonna use artificial fertilizers and things like that.
How do you go about, in a community, to bring those people into the fold of that might not be the best way to do stuff, especially when they’ve been out there doing it all their lives? I think most of them consider themselves good at it, or seasoned at it, or maybe even experts. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but you understand what I’m saying. They’ve been doing it the way that they’ve been doing it for a really long time and then here come some people that we’re trying to get back to the land type thing, and we’re trying to make it better. Oftentimes, you don’t see eye to eye there. What are some things that we can do to bridge that gap and do you see that where you are in terms of this divide?
Jenise: As far as gardening goes, at this point, I haven’t run into that. I think it’s just the luck of the draw. The people that live near me aren’t really gardeners. They’re horse people mostly. On the podcast with Marianne, we’ve talked about this issue because we’ve had friends, I know Marianne has experienced this, that say the neighbors are spraying Roundup all over everything. The runoff comes onto their property so how do you deal with this? If it were me, I’m learning more and more and more. It’s so easy to just divide and judge. It’s so easy to say, “I’m a crunchy mom and they’re the pesticide people.”
Jennifer: Yeah, I know. It is, it’s so easy to do that, but it doesn’t usually get you anywhere in the end.
Jenise: No, it does not. We need to stop that. All of us need to stop that. That whole thing is epidemic right now. We’re all in this mode of, “I’m this label, and they’re that label, and [inaudible 00:30:31].” Stop right there. If you can find ways to bring those people in to get together, you don’t approach that topic. Don’t go near that topic to begin with. Become friends first, build some bonds first. Do some other things together with those people first. That would be my suggestion. I think with friendship, even the most entrenched ideas can soften and can become a little bit more open to some other things. The key is you don’t judge and you don’t blame. You don’t label other people. See them as you, just another version of you. There but for the grace of God. We all could be on their track. Let’s just see those other people as another version of us, and bring them into the fold, and slowly, hopefully by osmosis and with love …
Jennifer: With love, yeah.
Jenise: That’s why our tagline is, “Tips, tools, and tactics for living a heart-centered life that honors Mother Earth and her inhabitants.” We believe that everything starts with the heart. It all starts with the heart. This transformation that we want the earth to have, the transformation that we want ourselves to have, maybe health-wise or even just spiritually, it all begins in the heart. So approach everything with love is what I would say and try to find win/win situations and collaborate.
Jennifer: I love that. That’s great, try and find something and to set the situation up for success before you go in there and just fuss, fuss, fuss, fuss. Just see, how can I come out of the situation and both of us feel good about what was said and what the outcome would be?
Jennifer: I’m looking at the comments and hi Vicky, how are you? I see a whole bunch of other people. Facebook, I have to go in and out of the video so if I’m not getting your comment, then rest assured, I will go through all of the comments later and I will answer any questions if I’ve missed them. Like I said, Marianne is in there. She’s answering questions. I know Jenise will come back and do the same thing. So rest assured that we will get to you if you are asking questions.
Along those lines, you interview people who are making a difference on your podcast. With gardening in places that are different from where a lot of people live … You think if you’re gonna live a sustainable life, then you will have homestead, and have property, and all of this, but there are actually people that are making a difference in urban areas, in the city. I know there has been a lot of this sort of thing happening in Cuba ’cause they didn’t have a choice. They had some hard times and still do, but they have made the urban farming work for them in large parts. Could you speak to teaching others how to be sustainable where they live? What does that look like?
Jenise: I think that it’s important to always start with yourself. You look at yourself and you see, how could I improve my life so that I’m more healthy, so that I feel better about my relationship with Mother Earth? You start making little baby steps, even if it’s just, I’m gonna not buy creamer anymore. I’m gonna make my own nut cream. I’m going to avoid a lot of poisons that way and I’m not gonna have packaging that needs to be thrown out. It’s one small thing. Maybe that’s a big thing for some people, but even if you just go to the store and you buy bulk items rather than individually packaged things whenever you can, that makes a difference or if you buy the organic. Even if you grow some things, even in the city. Apartment balcony, you can grow things in containers. You can have a whole herb garden. You might be able to even grow some zucchini. That makes a difference. That’s the thing, I would say. You look at yourself.
I would also say, I have to bring this up. You are motivated to do these things that help the planet and yourself when you develop a relationship with yourself. You have an internal, what’s the word, life, a spiritual life, if you will, whatever that means to you. If you’re always working on yourself, trying to be that better person, trying to weed out these blocks that you have that are keeping you from doing things you want to do.
Jennifer: I love that. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. As long as you’re growing, that’s the key. I love that.
Jenise: Yeah, progress not, what’s the word? Perfection. Progress not perfection, right.
Jennifer: Yes, that’s good, that’s great. Let’s talk about permaculture because that’s something that you believe in wholeheartedly. You were talking about Marianne doing a lot of that. You’ve got a certificate in that or a certification rather. Talk about that. What does that even mean for people who have never heard of this before? Can you talk about the benefits?
Jenise: Sure, yeah. For me, what appealed to me right away with permaculture was that this was a system that learns from mother nature, really looks at how mother nature does things and then tries to apply them in designing your own system. It might be gardening that you apply these principals to. There are principals such as function stacking, meaning you have one thing that does something but then it does a whole bunch of other things too. A good example of that might be when you’re gardening, companion planting. You plant marigolds in your garden because they look pretty but also they repel pests, which helps your garden if you keep it around the plants you don’t want pests on, but then another function that a pot marigold has is it’s an herb that is really good for your skin. You can infuse it in oil and make all kinds of things that are really good for your skin. That would be an example of function stacking.
Permaculture, that’s just one small example of these wonderful ideas that are built into nature that we have not been using. You can use these ideas not just for gardening but for organizing your business. Anything you want to design, you can use these principals for. I feel like, heck, why are we always reinventing the wheel? Why don’t we just learn from stuff that’s worked for millions of years?
Jennifer: Yeah. Obviously, I’m here and that’s what I believe. There are these traditional things that we have known for thousands of years in a lot of cases and in the last hundred years or so, we’ve thrown them to the wayside in the way of technology. We’re just now thinking, wait a minute. That technology might not be the best thing in the world. Not that all technology is bad, but it’s like we were talking before, questioning. What is the long-term effect of this?
Jenise: Yeah, exactly. Mother nature knows best and it just seems ridiculous that we have gone on for so long thinking we know better and we’re gonna grow plants way better than mother nature every could. We’re gonna throw up monoculture and deplete our soils because we don’t understand the relationship between the soil and the plant and all these other things.
Jennifer: Yeah. I think it came from a place of good intentions because we were trying to feed a lot of people with not as much land and trying to make it where people don’t have to work as hard and all of that, but I think people just kept going, and going, and going, and then didn’t really question, is this the best thing? That’s sad that it’s taken 100 years or so for us to even stop and say, “Hey, wait a minute.”
Jenise: Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. People did have good intentions. Everyone was trying their best, like you said. We have to stop every once in a while and really question what we’re doing and see if it’s still the thing we really should be doing.
Jennifer: Yeah, and I don’t think there’s ever been a time in history really where technology … Technology has always been a good thing. It’s always been something that people embrace and think, look at technology today, isn’t that amazing, and always welcome it and never question it. I think this is the first time really in history that we’ve ever had to do that and say, “Wait a minute, what are we really doing and what’s this going to affect in the long term?” I think that’s something that humanity hasn’t really had to deal with up until this point.
Jennifer: In any case, we’re talking about green living, we’re talking about sustainability, and it’s one thing to do what you can where you are, and maybe plant some things, and try to cut down on your waste, and try to make things yourself, and buy as organic as you can, and raise your garden organically, but then it’s another thing to support businesses that are doing that in terms of trying to influence sustainability, and be a sustainable company. Could you speak to that and what kind of questions would you ask different companies if you want to purchase from them or do business from them? How do you keep that thread of sustainability going throughout your entire life?
Jenise: You hit the nail on the hid. You start asking questions. You ask where they get their supplies from, you ask what their business practices are, the places that they get their supplies from, what their business practices are. For me, I think that that’s one of the benefits of self reliant living and becoming more of a producer than a consumer, is that you don’t have to buy as much stuff so that when you do buy things, you have the time and maybe you even have the money to purchase things that cost a little bit more but you know they are chemical free. They don’t have the pesticides and all those things. That’s the thing. You can totally be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to all this stuff.
Marianne, she’s really been an inspiration to me. She doesn’t buy things very often, but when she buys something, she’ll fork out the dough to make sure it’s really high quality so that she doesn’t have to buy it again two or three years down the road. That’s what I like to try to do. Again, when you do buy stuff, you look at it. Try to see if you can support the businesses that are doing good and veer away from those that aren’t. That’s the power that we have. We don’t have to purchase these things that are ruining the planet.
Jennifer: Sort of speak and vote with your wallet.
Jennifer: I love that. It’s so true. Sometimes it’s harder to do in some cases than others, but that really is the power that we have, is with our dollars. Ellen is saying that her daughter had all four of her children at home. That’s wonderful. I love that. Okay, let me see. I’m just monitoring everything and like I said, we’re on Periscope for the first time in a while so I’m making sure that we’re getting everything. If you’re on YouTube, be sure and go ahead and type your name in there so I can call you by your name rather than your handle ’cause I’m not sure I could pronounce a lot of the handles that people use. If you would do me that favor, I would really appreciate it. Like I said, rest assured I will answer all the questions if I’ve missed any. I’m going in and out of these different platforms and making sure that I’m getting as many as possible. I really do appreciate you commenting and contributing to the conversation. That just makes it so much richer and I’m sure Jenise feels the same way and loves your interaction.
Jenise: On the note of the home births, I just wanted to say, have you looked at the infant mortality rates these days and the maternal mortality rates these days? They’re worse than when I gave birth. It’s crazy. It’s a scary time and that’s why I think that people really need to look at other alternatives than the thing that everyone says that we need to do, home birth being one. Personally when I did my research, I felt more safe having my baby at home.
Jennifer: I agree. I totally agree. It’s crazy with the pesticides, and preservatives, and all of that really can take a toll on your health, children’s health, along with everybody else’s health. I think that is a big problem. Hopefully we’re raising awareness of some of that.
Jennifer: So what is an area of life that people don’t always think that they can green up but maybe they can. Is there things that are hidden that we just, like we were talking about earlier, maybe don’t think of or our attention isn’t really there?
Jennifer: We’ve been talking a lot about food, but what other things can we do besides tackle the food issue?
Jenise: Yeah. The reducing of the packaging. If you look at the zero waste people, they’re on it. They are finding ways. They’re breaking down the barriers. Here’s a good example. Years ago when I first started bringing my grocery bags to the store, I was a weirdo. It took me a while to get up the courage to be that weirdo because we did these things a certain way. Then you look at the zero waste people and they’re not content with just the bags at the store. If they go out to eat at a restaurant and they’re gonna take home their food, they’re not gonna take it home in styrofoam. They’re bringing their containers to the restaurant so that the restaurant can just put it in their container and they’re not gonna throw it away. While that may seem radical to a lot of people, remember grocery bags seemed radical 20 years ago. That’s what I would say. Really look at the packaging. Look at how you can reduce your packaging, even if it’s one small thing like making your own bread. I don’t have bread bags to throw away anymore.
Jennifer: Yeah, I love that. The thing is that, like you were saying, it might not be practical for everybody to always take a container and all this, but I would encourage people to do it for a day or do it for a week, if nothing else, just to make you aware of the waste that is out there and that you produce. Just having that awareness is going to help you cut back where you can, where it’s more convenient for you. I would really encourage people to do that for just a small amount of time, even if they can’t totally make that commitment across the board. I know that would be difficult for a lot of people, but at the same time, just doing it for that small amount of time can make such a difference.
Jenise: Yeah, and every time you do something like that, you start to feel better about your life. It really does make a difference in how you feel about your life and where you’re going.
Jennifer: Yeah, it does. It gives you a feel good feeling inside. It really does. Let’s talk a little bit about new systems. Opposed to capitalism and not getting really political here, but just talking about what you envision us moving to, and the back to the land type movement, and talking about different systems besides the current system I should say.
Jenise: It’s so good to just talk about it. We have to at least start the conversation. This was really a big part of what I meant by 10 or 20 years ago I couldn’t even imagine anything different. People have come out with some really interesting and good ideas. For instance, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Ubuntu. It’s a movement that Michael Tellinger from South Africa came up with based on some of the practices of people in that area. Basically, the idea behind Ubuntu is it’s a community. With all these things, it comes back to community. You donate three hours, a certain amount of hours per week to working on stuff that the community, together, produces and then the rest of the time you have to yourself. By doing that, all of your needs are met, your food, your living expenses, all that.
There have been variations of that. You can look at people doing communes in the 60s to co-housing that started to pop up in the 90s. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard that. Co-housing is a similar idea. It’s like an intentional community where everyone comes together, they have an idea of what they want to do, certain things they want to do together. Maybe they have a couple of meals a week together. There’s such a wide range from commune, to intentional community, to co-housing, to something like Ubuntu. I do think that we need to start looking at these things. You can even be not in a community. I don’t think you can, truthfully. You really want civilization to thrive, we need to connect as humans.
Even if you’re just a homesteader and you’re doing your own thing, you can get together with your neighbors and you can barter stuff. You can say, “Hey, I’m gonna grow the tomatoes this year. You can grow the lettuce and then we’ll share.” There’s so much that can be done. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. In my mind, those kinds of ideas are what’s gonna get us out of where we’re at now. They will replace what is happening now because something is going to have to. I think more and more people are realizing that community really is where it’s at.
Jennifer: Yeah, it’s true. The way we’re growing, it’s just not sustainable. You can just look at it, you can crunch the numbers, common sense, think about it. It’s not sustainable. It is a question of finding a different way of doing things, what that is.
Jenise: Yeah, and it may be different in every area. You may have a spot in the country where there’s a lot of people doing the commune thing, but then another spot in the country where it’s just homesteaders, individual, but they’re working together. They’re collaborating. It doesn’t have to be one thing for everybody. Why can’t it be different in different places where people develop what they want to do?
Jennifer: What works for them. I love that.
Jenise: Exactly, yes.
Jennifer: That’s great. I love talking about this stuff. It’s wonderful.
Jenise: I do too.
Jennifer: Let’s talk about your podcast a little bit. You’ve had this wonderful experience of talking to all of these different people. Who has been your favorite guest?
Jenise: Oh gosh. There’s been so many really good guests. I love Chris Agnos of Sustainable Human. I don’t know if anybody’s ever seen his page on Facebook, but he is the one, if you’ve ever seen that film called How Wolves Change Rivers … Oh, you’ve got to see that.
Jennifer: We’ll put a link in the show notes.
Jenise: Yeah, it’s a short thing. He created it based on a talk, I can’t remember who it was was giving, but it was basically about when wolves were reintroduced to nature, how it affected the whole ecosystem in drastic ways. It’s beautifully done, but he makes things like that to give people an idea of the value of living more sustainably, how important it is. He would be a good one. I really like Michael E.V. Knight, who runs a page called Begin an RBE Community Now, I think, resource based economy now, fascinating guy, just a character from New York. He’s got this New York accent and he’s telling everybody, “You’re wage slaves. You need to free yourself.” I love people with really great personalities like that.
Jennifer: And great passion.
Jenise: Yeah, and he connected me with so many fascinating people that were working on these new systems. I would say those would be a couple. There’s too many to name, another one being Linda Borghi, who does a thing called Farm-A-Yard. She’s teaching people how to actually make money by farming their yards. She’s a hoot. She’s the original Earth mother, and wonderful personality, and great tips to really get people to think about the microcosm under their feet as well as the macrocosm and how it all interconnects.
Jennifer: Yeah. We’re gonna put those in the show notes so people can find them. They sound so fascinating and I want to go watch the thing about the wolves ’cause I love animals. What a wonderful experience for you, that you get to talk to all these wonderful people. I think we’ve already touched on these things before, previously here just talking, but just for somebody who might just be coming in or just to sum up, what are three things that we could do right now today to start living more sustainably?
Jenise: Number one, I would say get to know yourself. Meditate, yoga, do whatever it is that helps you bring yourself back to center and develop a relationship with the heart. Develop that intuitive ability, that inner guidance that tells you what’s true and what’s not, what’s right and what’s wrong. That would be number one. Number two, really ask yourself the question, how is what I’m doing impacting those around me and my environment in general? How can I make everything I do as positive as possible? The third one, which maybe should be the first through the second, but it’s a big one, is gratitude. Gratitude. Just look around and be grateful for what you have because nothing multiplies the good stuff like gratitude.
Jennifer: Yes. That’s just such a well said comment because it changes your perspective as well, especially if you’re not having a good day. If you just look around, that’s wonderful. That’s a great way to leave it. Jenise, can you tell people where to find you? Twitter, your website, where can people download your podcast?
Jenise: Yes. We are on iTunes, we’re on all the other major podcast distributors. Our website is sustainablelivingpodcast.com, very easy to find. On Twitter, we are @sustlivingpod, but you can also follow me personally, Jenise Fryatt, or Marianne West. She has a middle initial that I can’t remember right now.
Jennifer: Then we will put the links in the show notes. No worries. If you want to go follow everybody there, both of you, and your website, we will definitely put that in the show notes.
Jenise: We’re also on Facebook. We have our Facebook page and we also have a Facebook group called Sustainable Living: Tips, Tools, and Tactics that anybody can post on. It’s our way of building our community but I’m taking a lot of tips from you, Jennifer. Don’t be surprised if I start doing some of the stuff you’re doing. Yeah, I think that would be basically it, how you would get ahold of us. Also, you can reach us by email, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Jennifer: Wonderful. Thank you so much for being here.
Jenise: Thank you. This has been a hoot, I loved it.
Jennifer: It’s been fun, yes.
Jenise: You’ll have to come onto our podcast. I would love to have you back so we can continue the conversation.
Jennifer: I would love to. That would be wonderful.