It’s a well-known fact that the teen years are a time of self-realization, independence and drama. It’s also a time of rebellion. But people don’t say the last part, just in case saying the word will further induce the phase of rebellion. But here’s the thing: it’s not always bad.

Rebellion is, in my terminology, being non-conformist and exploring part of society unknown. That’s in the most basic sense. There’s no lying, though: this can be totally negative, but doesn’t have to be. A few years ago, I stumbled across a video that really inspired me. It was about a family living with very little waste. No trash? That’s garbage! (I just had to make a bad pun in here somewhere.)

The coolest thing about it was that it was totally non-conformist, so it counted as a rebellion. Okay, maybe I wasn’t really thinking about that then, but still, the idea of being different than society attracted me instantly. I’m pretty sure that that was what really sparked my interest, but, consequently, the idea itself stuck fast in my brain. I measured, counted, and negotiated because the zero waste thing was something I couldn’t do without the rest of my family. And, hello, people, I’m rebelling here.

And it developed into a passion. I researched sustainability and found even more ways to lessen the environmental footprint of our family. The weekly trash total lessened as we shopped more in bulk, brought our own lunches in reusable containers, and de-cluttered our home. Shopping at thrift stores (reducing the amount of energy spent producing new clothing) and re-purposing any household item that was “trash-bound” were things I practiced and still aim for now.

This is a passion that has not come to an end; I am still conscientious about how buying things is a vote with concrete consequences, so I watch who I’m voting for by choosing where I spend my money wisely. Even now, after nearly three years, I cringe every time I throw something away.

So basically, rebelling is not just when bad children do naughty things because it’s easier. Rebelling, while totally liberating and amazing, is hard. And frustrating. It takes time to master and should be celebrated (when it’s positive). Rebellion means change. And young people are usually the ones to begin changing the world to form the future we want.

Featured photo via ShutterStock