Mindful Path to Sustainability
Articles on sustainability initiatives by big companies and non-profit organizations are posted on social media websites every day. When we read about any company’s initiative to reduce carbon emissions, I am sure we all feel happy knowing that there are folks out there attempting to make the earth’s atmosphere and the climate conducive to comfortable living conditions. At the same time, have we noticed that almost 80% of those initiatives are for providing a differential market to the respective company’s product, i.e., pro-commercialization OR to offset their energy loading caused by AI operations.
Correspondingly, the initiatives attempt to set aside a small percentage of the company’s profit to fund a third-party organization to provide ways to credit the carbon emissions or substitute non-renewable sources of energy, i.e., fossil fuels, tagged as the primary sources of emissions. Another new sustainability initiative is reducing solid waste via donation centers, which exist to pass on refurbished products. The refurbishing temporarily extends the life-span of products that qualifies it to cross the gate-to-user barriers and eventually ends up in the thrash six months to an year later than it would have initially. Agree or not average electronic products are just not manufactured for long term use after it crosses the manufacturer’s gate.
Is it enough of a sustainability initiative?
Most of us know that this isn’t enough of a sustainability initiative, especially to the bigger ecosystem - that if not deemed desperately in need of balance and can be called out for being ‘out of balance.’ After reading some of the marketing articles and so-called sustainability initiatives out there, I came up with these questions to invoke a few thoughts from readers of this article:
- Are we doing enough to bring back environmental/ecological balance by just trusting industries and companies to do their part, or are we missing a big piece of the puzzle?
- Are we integrating resource recovery/restoration of the earth’s defined resources? Resources have been extracted or stripped or logged at a rapid rate based on illogical assumptions of renewability/immortality to keep the economy running (over-projecting demands to exploit resources, then building a false sense of need and insecurity to sell those goods)?
- Amidst gaining convenience at our fingertips and getting customized solutions for every single purchase or every article on the internet, are we conscious of the impacts that the data warehouses are causing to the environment, or are we going to wait till the consequences are evident to drop our ignorance?
- When minting money to decrease a country’s debt is considered damaging to the economy in terms of borrowing from the future, how can resource extraction/depletion (minting resources from the earth’s finite bank) to feed our dependency of materialistic products not be considered as damaging to the economy or the environment of the future?
As a Sustainablity Scientist, I want us to know SUSTAINABILITY IS NOT JUST — emissions reduction OR securing the future economy by offsetting the damage OR paying the penalty for creating imbalance. Sustainability focuses on the three pillars — economic, social, and ENVIRONMENTAL balance. Unfortunately, in the contemporary world, the economic initiatives impair the environment with or without our cognizance and keep fooling our enslaved brains to believe offsetting the harm done is the only way to become sustainable. It is also sad that we have been and shall keep on paying the penalty for being so co-dependent on products in the economy’s name. Consequently, we are slowly giving up on the environment and our freedom to privacy in the name of convenience.
Now that I’ve spoken about the issue at hand, where or what’s the solution to meeting sustainability goals? In my view, following the ‘Minimalistic’ buying approach and adopting the 3 R’s — REDUCE, RECYCLE, and REUSE, is the best gift we can give our loving mother earth and to our future. Here are a few articles to start the living MINDFULLY right now from our homes.
I recommend reading these great blogs for the minimalistic buying approach — Minimalism and shopping — 18 ways to shop with intention and 40 Things I Stopped Buying as a Minimalist.
Finally, we can’t just trust the manufacturers or the commercial market to adopt the 3 R’s. Cause demand drives innovation and supply chain, which is why we need to be responsible in exercising our freedom to evaluate the products we choose to promote or diminish conscientiously. Here’s how can we do that:
DEVELOP A SUSTAINABLE MINDSET AND QUESTION YOUR AWARENESS –
- How much do I know about the product I’m planning to buy or have purchased?
- Do I really need (not want) this item so badly that I want to have it shipped from halfway across the world?
- How many days, weeks, months or years will I own and use it efficiently?
- Where will the product end-up in 5–10 years after I dispose it? If buying for short-term use, is it eco-friendly, and does the price/resource used to make the product justify its resourcefulness?
- How do I reduce my footprint daily? Some ideas to begin with:
Can I support and/or buy locally grown or manufactured products?
Can I use less tissue or replace/substitute it with water in the bathroom?
Can I use less plastic at the grocery store —bring your own cloth bags, not bag individual fruits and veggies unless loosely packed?
Can I eat fewer processed/packaged foods, one meal at a time?
Can I reduce my media/screen time post work hours to one hour a day?
Can I click fewer pictures, make lesser posts of my daily life status, clean my phone or back-up storage of unwanted images, etc. (remember less data stored/used, more energy conserved)?
Can I take the bus/train instead of using my car today?
Can I read a book instead of spending time on the internet or listening to music while traveling/commuting?
Can I take my reusable mugs to coffee shops than use disposable ones?
Well, I’m sure you can come up with 100 more ‘Can I’s’ based on your lifestyle and habits, but let’s all have the will to turn those ‘Can I’s’ to ‘I can’s’ and also teach our little ones to be more mindfully sustainable, cause definitely WE CAN’T FIND OR RECREATE OR BUY ANOTHER EARTH.