Thursday, 1 January 2015

Sustainable? But really?!

For the last year I've become increasingly cross with hearing the word sustainable used in ways that really don't make sense. So after a little bit of thought, and the knowledge that it's New Years Day and I'm always promising myself I'll blog more here, I thought I'd write a bit about what I think sustainable really means.
And maybe I need to explain what leads me to live what I hope is a fairly sustainable life and why.
In 1976, in the middle of that dreadful summer of drought, my mother said to me
"You'll be alive when the oil runs out".
I was 6. I didn't know what that meant but I knew I needed to find out, and so find out I did.
And in my mind that meant, at that age, no cars, no electricity and the need to find alternatives. I remember talking about solar power and wind and water being things that could be used to create power. And I remember thinking that resources were precious, whatever they were, and realising at that early age that Earth wasn't a finite resource if we carried on the way we were.
And then the 1980s happened. The world forgot about the problems and consumerism hit. Thát hard, cold consumerism which seemed so exciting but in actual fact set us on a completely ridiculous road.
Anyway, enough of me. Except to say that all of the above has led me to lead a life where I've constantly had that tiny phrase in the back of my head, in every thing I've ever done.
"You'll be alive when the oil runs out".

So what is sustainable?
And actually what is sustainability?
Are they the same?

For me they have to be. A sustainable life is one where you consider your every action, your every purchase. 

Food that travels half way around the world so we can have strawberries at Christmas.
Food distribution systems that mean food grown in the south of the UK, often travels to the Midlands or further, and back, before it lands in stores.
50% of fresh foods ending up in the bin before they even hit the shops.
Cheap clothing being made in sweat shops so we can have more.
Cotton being the crop that worldwide uses the most chemicals than any other.
Continual use of chemicals that have an adverse effect on our pollinators because the companies that make them claim they're safe.
Soil degradation

I could go on. 
The point is that none of these things are sustainable. And yet we carry on and ignore the issues. It's just the way it is.
Or is it? Is there another way? 

Well of course there is. And it doesn't have to be about becoming a yoghurt weaver!! 
It's about personal responsibilty and not being afraid to speak up for what's fair and right. It's about having a set of ethics and sticking to them, even when people think you're a bit odd.
But mainly it's about having respect not just for the human species but for all the species on the earth and for the earth itself. It's about seeing worth in both people and things and being prepared to pay for that worth. It's about seeing things through, and not just seeing things as a project that probably won't last, but about making sure everything we do has legacy and makes a change. And, and here's the one most people squirm at, it's about making sure we all are paid our worth in whatever we do, and not being afraid to state our worth.
And there I will stop.

Happy New Year to you all. And remember, together we can all make a change.

No comments:

Post a Comment