What is Sustainable Living?
Sustainable Living (SL) is a new approach to solving complex
environmental problems through solutions that integrate ecological
health, social justice, and economic well-being. It is also refreshingly
positive, realistic, cooperative, and inspirational.
Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without diminishing the ability of future generations to do the same.
But there is more to it than that. Sustainability is more fully defined
as life in a thriving world in which we lead rich, celebratory,
productive, and spiritually fulfilling lives without depleting each
other, the other creatures that inhabit the earth with us, and the
present and future environment that we all depend on.
Taken together, the core precepts of Sustainable Living represent a
new way of thinking about humanity’s presence on the earth and its place
in the universe. This new paradigm is rapidly replacing the old
paradigm that created the industrial age, neoclassical economics, and a
We are in Transition
The current world depletes the environment, exploits people and relies
on finite stocks of fossil fuel and other non-renewable resources. The
most prominent outputs of modern industrial economies are a linear
stream of wasted energy, wasted materials, and weakened communities.
This system largely ignores the operating principles of nature; it
depends on compound growth in linear throughput of materials and
energy. On a finite planet, and at the current level of human
awareness, this is simply not sustainable.
This is Not Environmentalism
Some members of earlier movements, such as conservationism and
environmentalism, focused mainly on problems, working to mitigate the
harmful effects of human action in the context of a world defined by a
failed and limited/outdated economic and social world view. This was,
and continues to be, important work. However, many environmentalists’
angle of engagement has been seen as “gloom-and-doom,” confrontational,
and guilt-inducing. In contrast, the Sustainability movement focuses
more on cooperative, holistic solutions to local and global problems in
ways that encourage the health of the natural environment as well as the
development of human potential.