The definition of sustainability is the ability or capacity of something to be maintained or to sustain itself. When you think about it in those terms it’s pretty simple. You want to close the loop on as many things in your life as possible. Almost every element on earth exists in the same volumes as they always have, it just depends on what form it exists at a given time. But humans have created new chemical compositions that take thousands of years to break down and extracted minerals from the earth in a scale much greater than what natural processes would allow. Water for example can exist as a solid, a fluid or gas, but the number of molecules in existence are always the same. The point is you are part of that system and rather than using up and or leaving behind 10 times more than you need you want to be living within what your existence requires.
Consider this, on average a person wastes about 7 times their body weight each year.
The good news is, there is a lot you can do about this. Here are some things to remember now you’re on your journey towards being a more sustainable human.
1. It's not rocket science
Although being sustainability's version of Macgyver and creating your own solar panels or grey water filtration system out of bits and pieces around the house would be amazing, It's just not necessary. You can start with things as mind numbingly simple as knowing what your council recycles and making sure your recycle bin is correctly sorted, also make sure you have your reusable shopping bags in the car and hey presto you’re on the way.
2. No need for dreadlocks and a chain for the bulldozers.
Personally, I really don't understand the word "greenie" and the fact it's used as a derogatory term. It takes all types, from those working in suits to create ethical investment opportunities, to those protesting the logging of a forest. The so called Greenie could be sitting right beside you. It’s not a bad thing to care passionately about the state of the planet, in fact to care about more than one’s self is extremely admirable. When you think about it, everyone has an interest in one green issue or another. Healthy outdoor recreation relies on a healthy environment and our very existence relies on a healthy environment. Clean air, drinkable water and safe food are essential to life and are not possible without a healthy sustained environment.
3. Sustainable living is good for your health.
Eating in season, local and chemical free fruit and vegetables is good for you, everyone knows that, but if you’re doing it for your health, guess what? Your also living a more sustainable life. This also means it shouldn’t come wrapped in plastic. Now add walking or riding a pushbike to work and you are getting healthy and sustainable.
4. Sustainable living saves you money.
Skip the big supermarkets this week and go to a produce market or your local fruit and vegie supplier. Avoid as many items as you can that come in plastic packaging, fill your bags with natural fruit and vegetables or better still start growing some of your own. Again try riding or walking to work saves on the fuel bill and my personal favourite, minimalistic living at home, not more useless furniture or bits and pieces.
5. Your little bit does count.
I created Fair Food Forager because I wanted to help as many people as possible choose more ethical and sustainable food. Each time our app can send someone to a café where the produce has come from down the road, we have, as a community created less waste and used less resources. The way you need to think of this is that if each person in Australia chose to buy something with one less piece of plastic per day, that means we just stopped 23 million bits of plastic from sitting in our environment for the next 1000 years. Your bit does count, so start by picking up one piece of plastic from the beach, you could have just saved one marine turtle, recycle one aluminium Can that you found on the street, you just saved enough energy to power your television for 3 hours.
Make a habit of living sustainably and it will become second nature, it really is up to all of us to start living as though we are part of this planet and not as something separate to it.
About the writer
A volunteer, environmental educator and science trained, Paul Hellier is the creator and Founder of Fair Food Forager
. A website / app that has been created to assist everyone in making smarter food choices, while recognising and rewarding the contributions of food businesses towards a better world With a catch cry of "Changing the way the World Eats".