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Sustainability is Everyone’s Business – Really!

By Glenn Wilson, Tallangatta Valley

‘Sustainability’ is a word, and a concept, that has been hijacked, demeaned, diluted and dismissed by many people, organisations and governments.  Yet without true sustainability everything we need and depend on will be depleted. 

What then?

Many in society have improved their standard of living over the last century or so, although this has incurred a cost.  The cost has been to the world’s environment, biodiversity and to finite natural resources.

For Humanity to survive, everything we do and consume must be sustainable.  Prospering and improving our standard of living long-term is only achievable if it is done in a way that no longer depletes or uses finite resources.  And this can only be accomplished if we are prepared to repair the damage that humans have already caused to our earth, oceans, rivers and atmosphere first.

Scientists agree that to survive, humans must learn to live in balance with our environment; a call echoed by many indigenous tribes and cultures around the globe.  Realists also understand the balance that must be achieved by humanity with Nature and the earth for a sustainable future.  

We need to ask ourselves if we really need all the ‘stuff’.  Does all the stuff make us happy?  Why do we keep buying it? Why do we keep throwing it out?  Is it really necessary?  Accumulating or going through a large amount of possessions is not sustainable. 

Our current economic systems are dependent on growth to survive; this also is not sustainable, nor is accumulating wealth. “Smaller is better” is the truth. 

How do we learn about what true sustainability is?  What are the truths about it, inconvenient or not?  Who are the teachers?  Where is the guidance?

Animals can teach us is how to live sustainably.  They don’t have or accumulate stuff.  How much grass they eat is not seen as a measure of success by animals.  Without fences, the balance many native animals strike with their environment is admirable.  They know that to live unsustainably will deny them a future.  Pretty smart these animals.

So let’s reclaim the word ‘sustainable’.  Let’s then live it.  And by doing so in our own backyards we can say we weren’t part of the problem.  We are part of the solution.