There are a number of definitions of sustainable, ranging from very straight forward to the more complex; these are the two that make the most sense to my understanding:
1. Sustainable = pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse (www.dictionary.com)
2. Sustainable/Sustainability = is a lens through which to view all issues. The sustainability movement encompasses environmental justice and social justice, because one cannot be obtained without the other. It means living life to the fullest without compromising future generations' ability to do so. It respects the interconnectedness of all life and acknowledges the responsibility that each person has to consider the effects that his actions have on other life forms, both living and to be born. The sustainability revolution is beginning! Watch out you styrofoam using, carbon cycle ignoring, TV worshiping members of American consumer culture. (www.urbandictionary.com)
To me living more sustainably has become increasingly important; the reality is that our planet cannot sustain the level of depletion of natural resources, nor the amount of non-biodegradable (which is a slippery term by the way) rubbish being piled into our land, air and oceans.
I also feel that as human beings we are struggling to sustain our current way of living – working long hours, sitting most of the day, eating a diet devoid of proper nutrition, overloading our skin and environment with toxic chemicals and our mind with toxic thoughts, living a life disconnected from nature, other people and even ourselves.
To me sustainability is a big and serious topic, many of you close to me will have had some pretty full on conversations about this, I’m sorry if I chewed your ear off at all. I don’t really consider myself to be particularly ‘preachy’ (mostly because I am far from perfect, so I try not to preach) about any subject, sustainability included, but I do believe that there is a lot more we all can do to improve our lives and our environment by living a little more sustainably.
So here are some of the things I’m doing to try and live a more sustainable life, you may or may not want to try some of these on for size yourself:
Increase your awareness - products
Ask more questions – where did this product come from, who was involved in its manufacture, were they treated fairly, was the environment damaged in the process, what will happen when I discard this item?
Increase your awareness – self
Taking this even further left of centre…how connected are you to yourself, your body, mind and spirit? This point is all about looking after and loving yourself; from eating well, exercising regularly, not working or playing too hard or too little for that matter, forming healthy relationships with friends, lovers, family and work and basically living a life you love. Not so surprisingly I think yoga helps improve our self-awareness and connection to our body, mind and spirit.
Buy less crap
Most people I know have more than they need, myself included. Yeah I find myself wanting more stuff sometimes, but when I stop and reflect, there’s not really anything I need. We live in such a consumer driven society with constant advertising telling us we need the latest greatest whatever, that buying shit on a regular basis is considered normal. Now I do think it’s ok to want some things without it making you an inherently bad person(vinyl records and yoga pants!) but think about how much you really need it and also ask the questions in the first point. It is often worth spending a bit more money to buy something of quality that will last longer so in the end we buy less overall – this not only saves you money, but also saves on landfill. I have a friend who has a rule that she must discard one item from her wardrobe for every new item she buys – how much would that make you contemplate your next purchase?
Reduce, reuse, recycle
So buying less crap is the start of the reduce part. Also look at how you can reduce your environmental footprint – can you reduce your household waste and consumption? Buying things with less packaging is something I always try to do. Reuse or repurpose wherever possible – my husband repurposes my old studio yoga mats as protective padding under machinery in his shed – we even have one buffering our stackable washing machine and dryer. Composting doesn’t just reduce your waste, it actually repurposes it into nutrient dense food for your garden. And how about clothing? Can you pass your still in good nick items onto someone else – have you considered buying items from an op-shop? We don’t need new all of the time. Finally, recycling….please take the time to sort the rubbish you have into appropriate recycling designations.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg; I could talk for days about this subject, but I’ll bring this to a close with this last thought:
To me living more sustainably is something that with a little bit of effort upfront should quite easily be able to become part of your everyday living; it has to really if it is to stick and become the norm, not the extreme.