Too busy? An environmentally sustainable lifestyle is still possible!

Jun 29, 2023
White and gray floral textile hanged outside surrounded by trees

Photo by Carly Mackler on Unsplash

Every choice a Bahá’í makes—as employee or employer, producer or consumer, borrower or lender, benefactor or beneficiary—leaves a trace, and the moral duty to lead a coherent life demands that one’s economic decisions be in accordance with lofty ideals, that the purity of one’s aims be matched by the purity of one’s actions to fulfil those aims.

Universal House of Justice, 1 March 2017 – To the Bahá’ís of the World

by Christine Muller

Life is busy. Baha’is are often especially busy because in addition to family and work responsibilities, many of us are fully engaged in various kinds of service. So, how can we find the time to walk to the post office instead of driving, or to hang up our laundry instead of putting it into the dryer? We argue here that the time investment of an environmentally responsible lifestyle compared to the traditional materialistic way of life is about even—if we look at the full picture. 

Many people spend much time driving to stores to look for new clothing, to find the most attractive ones, the best deals, and to try them on. If we are content with what we have, we can wear clothes for many years, even decades—they stay good much longer when not thrown into a dryer. Imagine the time you can save when you only shop for clothing when really necessary! Of course, it’s not only clothing—shopping for other things that are not essential for survival is also time consuming.

Walking or biking takes more time than driving, but it is healthy, and therefore may in the long-term save you hours in waiting rooms of doctors’ offices for health issues caused by lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle. In the short term, a good walk or bike ride may allow you to skip the fitness center. This holds true for raking leaves, too!

In your efforts to minimize driving your car to reduce your contribution to air pollution and climate change, you will also save time because you plan your car trips to combine many errands in one trip.

Moreover, an environmentally sustainable life can help reduce stress caused by a busy life. Hanging up our laundry outdoors in the fresh air, or a brief walk to the compost pile every other day can provide meaningful breaks from our computer centered work.

Of course, there is profound meaning in leading an environmentally sustainable lifestyle—it expresses spiritual verities in action and is an essential part of a coherent life as called for by the Universal House of Justice (see quote above).


Christine Muller, Teacher of Music and the Environment

Board Secretary, International Environment Forum

I was interested in environmental issues already at a young age and became a Bahá’í when I was 17, which was the beginning of a life-long study of the Bahá’í Faith. As the environmental crisis was worsening, I began to systematically study climate change at a time when not much information was easily available. I also searched the Bahá’í teachings for a spiritual solution to the climate crisis. At that time, climate change was not known to most people and there were no educational materials available. That’s why I wrote Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change – an Interfaith Study Course, which the International Environment Forum posted in 2009. I joined the Wilmette Institute as support faculty for its Sustainable Development course in 2011 and created its Climate Change course the following year. I also teach a course on climate change for the Environmental Sciences Department of the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) in Iran. I have served on the board of RI Interfaith Power&Light for more than a decade. In recent years, much of my time is spent serving the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum ( as its secretary.  My formal academic background is in music, and I enjoy part-time piano teaching, playing and - when there is time - composing music. A recent composition is Humans on Earth – a Ballad of Our Time for two singers, string orchestra, piano, and percussion. Its lyrics include quotations from scientific sources and the Bahá’í Writings. Christine’s articles on BahaiTeachings.orgSee Faculty Bio


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