‘Sustainable Living’ is a term often on people’s lips these days. In a world increasingly aware of the ecological damage that we have wrought upon the planet, and the impoverishing dangers of global capitalism, people are looking for ways to lower their consumption and live more harmoniously with the planet. Interest in sustainable power has increased enormously in Asia and communities which have before relied on produce and economic influences from other regions and nations are beginning to understand that, actually, self-sufficiency might well be the way forward.
A sustainable lifestyle is, first and foremost, quite excellent for the environment. The world’s greatest scientists have agreed that tackling climate change head on and working on sustainable methods of doing what we enjoy is not something about which we can afford to be picky. If we wish for this planet to continue to support the human species, then we need to radically re-think our ideas. Sustainable living really is the only way forward if we are to preserve our position on the planet – but many people feel that a sustainable lifestyle is a luxury for the rich. Ordinary people simply cannot afford to take the ethical option every time, and if a method of dragging oneself out of a life of poverty is not exactly ecologically sound – well, so be it. However, it is a misconception that sustainable lifestyles are costly. In fact, they need cost very little at all, and can even help people and communities to make money and better themselves in the long term.
It is obvious to see how large-scale sustainable living would positively affect the ordinary people. After all, renewable power (if produced properly and efficiently) is often a lot cheaper than fossil-fuel generated power – and likely to get cheaper still by comparison as the fossil fuel prices rise. In the short term, however, it may seem like something of a drag which benefits nobody in economic terms. However, this is not the case. Sustainable communities can indeed be self-sufficient and (crucially) self-supporting. Although local produce and skills may seem more expensive than the stuff in the stores, the fact is that a lot of the money you pay goes (indirectly) back towards your own personal benefit. When you buy something that has been produced elsewhere, then your money leaves your community and never returns. While you have gained a piece of fruit or what have you, that money is now benefiting the economy of some far-away place, while your own local economy has been depleted. If, however, sustainable communities begin to grow and craft their own produce, and purchase these rather than going for store-bought stuff, then the money circulates around the community, and grows as it does so. It’s an indirect way of supporting community growth and nourishment. An economically self-sufficient community is an excellent way of ensuring that everyone is provided for in monetary terms as well as in human terms, without the need for outside assistance.
Health And Growth
So sustainable communities are good for the environment, and they’re good for the local economy –but are they actually good for our health? Well, studies suggest that locally sourced and grown foodstuffs are really rather excellent for our bodies and minds. They’re generally exposed to less harmful chemicals during the growth process (which also benefits the environment), and they are often more nutrient-dense than their intensively-farmed supermarket cousins. Furthermore, it has been suggested that living and working in a self-sustaining community is mentally and emotionally fulfilling in a way which the modern, urbanised mindset finds itself lacking. Knowing that you and your people are able to support yourselves, in a sustainable manner, without harming the planet or requiring outside assistance, is really quite a confidence-builder. You don’t have to be part of a small community to make this work, though. Just making small differences in your everyday choices – buying at farmers’ markets rather than superstores, choosing a renewable energy supplier, generating less waste, and learning to re-use and ‘upcycle’ items – can make an enormous amount of difference. All of these changes, repeated on a large scale, will encourage companies and governments to understand the need for sustainability, which will in turn improve our recklessly-consumerist lifestyles no end!