Sustainability, what does this buzzword really mean?
Before talking about “sustainability”, sharing some facts to you first.
Our wilful ignorance
You may not know the exact statistics, but I am sure the vast majority of us have heard similar records before. From social media, the news, magazines or schools, we have learnt the risks of greenhouse gases emissions, climate change or global warming. But still, we ignore the facts, we ignore the potential extent of its impact and devastation. We are wilfully ignorant. Even though we know the problem of climate change exist, we still do nothing for it. Why?
The main reason is: some of us are still in the mindset considering the world with an ever-plentiful supply of resources which can manage to provide ad infinitum without our concerns, and many of us choose to turn a blind eye on the threads since it is not so in front of us acutely influencing us. Most of us lack a sense of urgency towards the potential threats of climate change. We live in a capitalist world where money tyrannically reigns, which also suggests money is power. If you want a thing, you get to buy it. If you get to buy it, you get to consider if you can afford it. It is for long our critical consideration in a purchase while the environmental cost rarely, or say, never gets much spotlights on. For example, if you can afford to include shark fins in your relatives gathering dinners’ menu, you may go ahead and do so, without a red light pop up in your head warning you how sharks are becoming extinct globally due to human’s overfishing for fulfilling the market’s (our) demand. This example, as you can tell, is indeed describing the truth.
So what is sustainability and how do we achieve a sustainable world?
Sustainability – “the capacity for continuance into the long-term future. Anything that can go on being done on an indefinite basis is sustainable” (Capitalism: As if the world matters. London: Earthscan)
Put the lens back to our daily lives, we consume our food, purchase our clothes, drive to work, travel for business or holiday etc. All these individual micro activities we do every day indeed create carbon footprints to our plant, that further contributes to global warming and climate change. But let me ask you, can you tell how much carbon emission you caused, how much pollutant and even toxic waste you created from your buying process or your products?
Heading to a sustainable world, we have to learn and understand the social and environmental consequences of our behaviours. For example, the clothes you buy contributes to the profit of fashion industry – one of the major polluting industries in the world. I wilfully say that to make you feel guilty, but hope to help remind you to be a responsible consumer who gives more attention on world sustainability. We (consumers and the organizations) all can achieve a sustainable world. Speaking of fashion industry, imagine if the production processes of your products are transparent to you, you can even trace the origin of the raw materials, understand the true cost of the product, connect the producers/ manufactory etc. You would realise your right to know and your responsibility in acing sustainably; You would learn the extent of sustainability of the products you bought; You would get to know if your buying behaviour benefits other parties. Just like changing our world to a sustainable world takes time, so as the people, us changing from being ignorant to sustainability-conscious-and-active. Starting with your buying behaviours, being an aware and responsible consumer!
I hope that after reading this you will start being more aware and acting sustainably. This is not a “short-lived things”, this is a new, permanent mindset to view yourself as a responsible person, a responsible world citizen.
And remember, together we make the world better!