Through the use of greenwashing, marketers are successful in making people feel as though they can buy sustainability, as though it is a commodity that can be purchased for a price. However, I’ve often said that sustainability is an everyday practice; it’s a lifestyle, a decision-making process, a way of thinking and behaving. It’s the string of choices we make that constitute a sustainable lifestyle. A single purchase of a certified organic, Fair-Trade coffee product does not a sustainable lifestyle make.Through the use of greenwashing, marketers are successful in making people feel as though they can buy sustainability, as though it is a commodity that can be purchased for a price. However, I've often said that sustainability is… Click To Tweet
The 1987 United Nations Brundtland Report defined sustainable development as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
In the report, it also states that “sustainable global development requires that those who are more affluent adopt lifestyles within the planet’s ecological means”. This is the part that many people conveniently overlook in their quest for “sustainable living”. The fact is, we in the industrialised nations consume more than our fair share of the world’s resources. On average, each of us emits more greenhouse gas emissions compared with individuals living in the developed world.
Earlier this year, I calculated my annual carbon footprint and I was horrified that even though it was below the Australian average, it was double the global average. According to another footprint calculator, if everyone lived like me, we’d need 1.2 Earths. I eat a plant-based diet, embrace minimalism, carry around a zero waste kit, my house is run on renewable energy and I work from home, so what was the lifestyle culprit? It was air travel. I made several plane trips last year for work and pleasure. Clearly, this puts me in Brundtland’s definition of “more affluent”. Since some of my adult cousins living in the Philippines have never even set foot in a plane, this is an uncomfortable truth I must swallow. Anyway, I’ve decided that plane travel is a no-go zone this year unless I am absolutely required to travel by a client or advertiser, or if the speaking opportunity is too good to pass up. I have to “be the change” as Gandhi put it. And if I can’t actively reduce my carbon footprint, how can I expect anyone else to? Environmentalists and sustainability advocates pointing fingers would benefit greatly from picking up a mirror instead.
Related Post: The Causes of World Poverty and Why It Persists
Now to encourage people to practice sustainability rather than accept the marketer’s definition that it is an ‘eco’ commodity to be bought, I am getting back to the heart of the matter and sharing my green lifestyle practices.
One of my favourite ways to foster a deep connection to the earth is through gardening (which you will know if you’ve been following me on Instagram). It is through gardening that my soul and my commitment to sustainability are strengthened. Gardening allows me to connect with nature and the environment in a real and tangible way. While you can see the world’s wonders through sightseeing and travel (ahem, carbon emissions, ahem money) gardening is a low-carbon environmental activity that everyone can indulge in. In addition to getting back “down to earth”, gardening is one of those activities that help to slow the pace of life, a pace that has increased modern day problems and turned some humans into unthinking, unfeeling, unkind selfish robots. People are “too busy” to pause and reflect on the choices they make and how it impacts people and planet. People “don’t have time” to care about other people or make time for their loved ones. People are “too stressed” with their own lives to worry about the world’s larger global problems like poverty and climate change.
In a world obsessed with speed, convenience, results, outcomes and metrics, gardening forces you to be present, to appreciate the art of slow, and helps you connect with the earth, but more importantly, your humanity.
Keen to cultivate your green thumb? I suggest starting with a herb garden. Check out my recommendations for easy-to-grow herbs here.
Need guidance on gardening tools? Check out the ones I use here.
If you’d like to grab a copy of my FREE Gardening Journal, just click on the link to subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send it over.
Keen to help change the world and reduce your impact on our environment? Our free 12-page Sustainable Lifestyle Guide lists 101+ tips on how to live more planet-friendly. Just subscribe to our newsletter here and we’ll email it over!
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