Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Sustainability, like Simplicity, Equality, Community, and Cooperation, has multiple meanings. It's become very popular these days, to the point that some people refer to it as a meaningless 'buzz word'. At the very least, it refers to both the way that ecosystems work and the way we need to live.

As far as I'm concerned, sustainability means that whatever we build needs to be for the long-term. It means we see ourselves as part of the web of nature and act accordingly. It means that we use only renewable natural resources and use them as little as possible, allowing them to replenish themselves. It also means that we think about what works and what doesn't, as well as thinking about the future and what we leave to those who come after us. The Environmental Protection Agency defines sustainability as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." We need to think ahead. Thinking 'to the seventh generation' is a good start, but we may need to think beyond that.

In my post of 8/27/08, on Fritjof Capra's The Hidden Connections, I listed his basic principles of ecology, including "... an ecosystem generates no waste, one species' waste being another species' food." Generating no waste is also part of being sustainable. Nothing goes to waste, everything is reused--sometimes by recycling or, even better, composting--where what we see as wastes become food for plants. Sustainability means being creative, figuring out how to use less and waste nothing.

This ties in with living simply, since simple living uses less stuff. It ties in with living communally, since sharing things again means we need less and therefore there's more to go around and it lasts longer. But it also means that as we try to be Simple and Egalitarian and Communal we do it in such a way that we don't burn ourselves out. We are trying to build a society that lasts.

Next: Transitioning

Quote of the day: "... one of our main responsibilities is to leave to successor generations a sustainable future." - UN Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan
Word (or phrase) of the day: Eco-socialism
Hero(es) of the day: Harry Simms (Kentucky)

No comments: