Although many of us, if not most of us, have some idea of what sustainability means conceptually, many of us do not have an idea of what this means in terms of our lifestyle and personal responsibilities.
If we look back just 10 or 20 years, technology and consumerism has escalated and has become a big part of our daily life and make it easier. Leo Babauta’s statement in his blog that “...we rarely stop to consider whether technology and consumerism have always changed our lives for the better,” sums it up best that we do forget how we destroy our planet with this technology and consumerism. And as said by Andrew Ross, “Commodities, including parcels of time, only accrue value if and when they are rendered scarce. Time scarcity has been a basic principle of industrial life.”
Sustainability is generally understood to mean something along the lines of not consuming resources faster than their production and not polluting the environment in an irreversible way. Every day we hear and see that our environment is really suffering due to reckless human activities. Judging from this, sustainability seems to be the way to go, but that brings us to the question: whether leading a sustainable lifestyle is just another option for us, or a necessity to save our planet and make sure that the future generations live in peace?
I think it should be a necessity so that we make sound decisions and no one is adversely affected in the future. For example, if we continue wasting water and polluting the dwindling supply of freshwater that we have today, we would leave the future generation with no other choice but to desalinate saltwater or treat contaminated water for their daily use.
Talks about attaining a sustainable lifestyle have been around since 1954 with the publication of Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing and encouraged by organisations like the United Nations through conferences and publications. So how do we lead a sustainable lifestyle?
Lester R Brown, a prominent environmentalist and founder of the Worldwatch Institute and Earth Policy Institute, describes sustainable living in the 21st century as “shifting to a renewable energy–based, reuse/recycle economy with a diversified transport system.” Reducing the use of non-renewable energy resources and increasing the use of renewable energy should be promoted as much as possible. We should also keep in mind the 3 Rs - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and implement them wherever we can.
In addition to this philosophy, practical eco-village builders maintain that the shift to renewable technologies will only be successful if the resultant built environment is attractive to a local culture and can be maintained and adapted as necessary over the generations. As so much can be done to achieve a sustainable lifestyle, one just needs to be aware of what can be done, our impact on the environment today, and be prepared to work for a better future.
(The author is a Class 11 D student at Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan)