Sustainable lifestyle – a choice or a necessity?

  • Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 21, 2015 13:11 IST
Sustainable development is the need of the hour for we need to knit back together what we tore apart, before it completely breaks and causes our destruction. (Instagram photo)

“Forests precede mankind. Deserts follow”

Said to be at the top of the development chain, humans have become the embodiment of destruction of nature. The lap of nature in which evolution takes place is deteriorating due to the greed of humanity. With the execution of actions against Mother Nature herself, the survival of our species will soon be in danger lest we continue to ignore the needs of the environment.

Development is a continuous process and for a species as advanced as humans, which continues to strive for a better tomorrow, it is unconstrained. But development that is detrimental to the environment is precarious, as it will result in the end of all that we have endeavoured to achieve.

Due to this very reason the concept of ‘sustainable development’ was introduced in the international forum in 1987 and has been a topic of great discussion ever since. Sustainable development refers to the idea of constructing a developmental plan for meeting human development goals without compromising on nature.

In a world, where global warming is increasing, has a depleting forest cover and where a bleak future is imminent, this is a step towards the positive direction. Sustainable development is the need of the hour for we need to knit back together what we tore apart, before it completely breaks and causes our destruction.

Name: Radhika Joshi

Class: 11

School: Delhi Public School, Vasant Kunj

To us, the school going children, we see the term ‘sustainability’ in many textbooks and have memorised several definitions. But to put it in simple terms, sustainable living means to live on as few resources as possible with minimal environmental damage and depletion for the future generations to deal with.

About 1.2 billion people in the world live without clean drinking water and 8,000 acres of forests are being destroyed every day. The world’s population is expected to rise to about 9 billion by 2050. And these are not dreary facts – they are a wakeup call.

When the rate of consumption and the growth of population is more that the formation and replenishment of natural resources (exhaustible and inexhaustible), a sustainable life ceases to be an option and becomes an essential requirement. Alarmingly, this is happening now.

Why should I live sustainably? Why should I care? Well, these ignorant questions call for immediate introspection. For starters, the world is not ours to destroy. Its future must not be at stake because of our greed. We must remember that we share the world with about 2 million other species, each of whom has as much of a say in the usage of the earth’s resources as we do.

Therefore, over-consumption, over-exploitation, excessive usage and wastage must never be an option. Each of us should do our bit for the world that sustains us.

This has been summed by Lester Brown – “We have not inherited this earth from our forefathers; we have borrowed it from our children”.

Name: Ananya Saha

Class: 10 A

Gyan Bharati School, Saket

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.

Name: Kritika Kaul

Class: 11 D

School: Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed,” Mahatma Gandhi had said.

Nature for us has become just a natural capital now. What does the humankind do when one source of fuel seems threateningly low in quantity, never mind quality? Shift to another.

What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on? We as children feel really cheated when we see how much time our previous generations have wasted by getting our planet at this precarious position.

A human-engineered habitat of concrete and glass reinforces our belief that we lie outside of and above nature; the notion that we can use science and technology to escape the restrictions of the natural world is only a dangerous fantasy.

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money,” goes an Indian proverb.

Man cannot destroy this planet. Earth has survived everything and lived through all. It will certainly survive us and we would not. If one day all animals and all plants die, the evolutionary processes will begin again. If we are gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us.

It will only be through our collective sustainable efforts that we will succeed. Let us work together to make this necessity a reality. So that our children, if not us, can proudly and graciously look back and say, “We won.”

Name: Shefali Mehra

Class: 10 I

Delhi Public School, RK Puram

“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” - Albert Einstein

Living in the 21st century we are witnessing the earth choke to death. Along with Gaia, we - her siblings - too are leading to fatality. Each step we take affects her, directly or indirectly, and now it seems that every move is a grave mistake.

All our resources are being exploited to the core. Man, being as greedy as he is, wants all to himself. Even renewable resources are being used at such a rate that they have no time to rejuvenate.

Instead of hoarding all that is to be found, one needs to reduce the amount to their requirement. By downsizing the use of the resources, we will be able to reduce our carbon footprint which leads to a reduction of global warming. For these purposes, day in day out, people are trying to develop a suitable technology for alternative energy.

Sustainability is no longer an option or a luxury and a sustainable lifestyle requires acceptance and perseverance. People need to be willing to commit, sacrifice and understand the gravity of the situation that the future of posterity is in our hands. From here, there are only two clear paths. One that is dark and desecrated, an abandoned boulevard, where no life is to be found. The other where a green and plush archway, gives way to sustainability and a sustainable lifestyle. The most viable option, sustainability, is the need of the hour and a key to our survival.

As novelist Wendell Berry has aptly said “What I stand for is what I stand on”.

Name: Anoushka Chakrapani

Class: 10

Amity International School, Saket

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