What is Project Pura Vida?
Project Pura Vida began in 2010, when I was preparing to travel to Costa Rica to study abroad. It was astonishing how differently I needed to think about little things to make such a big change and to lessen my impact on the planet around me. Being so passionate about something that is well, radical, has changed the way I live, definitely, but also the way I think and interact with other people. I realize that it’s impossible to change the whole entire world at once, but as long as I am doing the best I can, something is being accomplished.
Want to live a “Pura Vida” too? It’s easy, since you define the goals for yourself, but for a jumping off point, here are my rules:
1. Care. Notice. Engage. Be aware of what I put in, on, and around my self and life, engage and care about what they are, where they come from, and what they will be after they leave me.
My example: Every time I go to the grocery store, I read the labels. ON EVERYTHING. Try it sometime. It’ll surprise you. Being a vegetarian requires a lot of vigilance, but even if I weren’t concerned about trace animal products (in obvious things like Caesar dressing and Worcestershire sauce, or shocking/annoying things like Gummi Bears, cane sugar, and to my extreme disappointment, Guinness Draught -____-) I would be concerned about the weird ingredients companies put into commonly used foods.
I also precycle. I will look at the item in question and really think about what the result of my buying it will be. Will it produced waste when opened (usually plastic seals, not recyclable or biodegradable)? When in use? What can I do with it when it’s gone? Will it really be recycled, or will it be downcycled, become trash, or can I reuse it over and over?
2. Let go of things I don’t use or need. Within reason, of course. I’m not an ascetic monk, but if I find myself hoarding objects, habits, even relationships that aren’t useful, necessary, or don’t make me happy, I’ll let them go.
My example: I’ve cleaned out my closet multiple times, getting rid of (donating, mostly for redistribution, or even for cloth scraps) everything I don’t wear for a reason. Like that shirt that fits weird, or the pants that won’t stay up, or those shoes that just hurt. Now that I have a sewing machine I can alter some items to fit better, or differently. I’m weeding it down to the point that I love everything in my closet. I’m almost always wearing a favorite outfit. Win.
3. Find an alternative. If there is something in your life that you don’t need, but can’t stand to give up, find the best possible alternative that meets your standard of “Pura Vida.”
My example: I am a chocolate fiend. My favorite chocolate bar, as any of my friends can tell you, is Hershey’s chocolate with almonds. I try to cut back, because that much sugar is bad for you, but I seriously crave them and get twitchy and fidgety when a craving comes on. They’re usually sold in plastic wrappers, but for a little extra I would buy the bigger bars in foil and paper wrappers. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but at least the foil is recyclable (after being wiped down) and the paper is biodegradable/recyclable too. These days I try to buy fair trade organic chocolate with ingredients I can readily identify. Most of the time it is Endangered Species chocolate bars, which are wrapped in paper, or I buy bulk chocolate, or I just lay off the juice.
4. Spread the word. Changing the way I look at food and consumption and material belongings has made me a much happier person. I started this blog to share the journey, my stories of triumphs and struggles, tips & tricks, and humiliating failures.
And there are TONS of failures. I just figure, at the end of the day, the fact that I’m really trying matters. And I hope my blog will convince you to try too.