Caroline has been working on the Sust Enable Project and relaying her experiences and conclusions via Sustainablog over the past several months. Her goal was to live 100% sustainably for three months in Pittsburgh, PA. Along the way she realized some changes in approach that would have worked better, and that taking care of herself was of paramount importance, over and above any particular sustainable practice. Widespread Sustainable Consumerism is More Vital Than Taking Individual Actions
A portion of the conversation focuses on what is the appropriate way to convert western society to 100% sustainable practices. Is the best approach a wholesale change of everything, causing great disruption, consternation and upheaval? Or is a gradual approach with people like Caroline leading the way, experimenting and reporting back the best way?
And in the end, a pair of mutually agreeable definitions are presented to the word sustainable that usefully are applicable to any, though personally I like Justin's a little better.
Sustainability: Acting to promote the holistic health and happiness of living beings, individually and collectively, while also respecting the planetary resources they depend upon.
Sustainability: to live in a way that allows all others to live.
A couple of passages throughout the series stood out to me, and I felt couldn't go by without comment:
People in Third World and sometimes Second World countries live sustainably every day–and in my experience when visiting Mexico, are considerably happier than the average American. Is this because they have struck a good balance between respecting the natural world and their own personal patterns, in ways that over-worked, over-stressed and over-consumptive Americans can only dream of? It’s a theory.I don't believe for a moment that third- and second-world inhabitants of our planet are happier and more self-actualized because they are actively considering their impacts on nature and living in harmony with it. I certainly believe her description that many do live happier lives, even if all of their needs are not being met, and they do not have the leisurely life of appliances, personal transport and inexpensive energy. Western (American?) society has been acculturated to believe that the way to happiness is through possession of these things. Those who still have access to their traditional cultures and do not doubt its efficacy have an immense leg up on us.
As promised, links to each of the posts in Justin and Caroline's conversation:
Towards a (Re)Definition of Sustainability: Justin Van Kleeck and Caroline Savery. 1-Justin
Towards a (Re)Definition of Sustainability: Justin Van Kleeck and Caroline Savery. 2-Caroline
Towards a (Re)Definition of Sustainability: Justin Van Kleeck and Caroline Savery. 3-Justin
Towards a (Re)Definition of Sustainability: Justin Van Kleeck and Caroline Savery. 4-Caroline
Towards a (Re)Definition of Sustainability: Justin Van Kleeck and Caroline Savery. 5-Justin
Towards a (Re)Definition of Sustainability: Justin Van Kleeck and Caroline Savery. 6-Caroline
Reflections on the Sustainability Dialogue–and a Manifesto for a Green with Heart