The theme of this blog - Take Action - comes from my passion to inspire more people to get involved in sustainable development. I believe all of us can contribute to a better world and by doing so we’ll also feel better. By sharing our passion and inspire each other that doing good also results in being good, the burden, often felt when reading about sustainable development, is being shared.
There are many ways to work with sustainable development. I still believe development is necessary, since humanity is far away, in my opinion, from reaching it’s true potential as a species. The reason why I write “sustainable..” is that the current global society is not existing within the planetary boundaries or easily said, not according to earth systems capacity to sustain us. I’ll write more about what sustainable development is in another post and I’ll get back to how you can make an impact.
If you look at yourself and the way you interact with your surroundings you’ll realise this is done in several ways. I’ll write down the ones I personally experience in my life and if you have any suggestions of other ways, please make a comment and share your insights.
Personal relationships - this can be a partner, family, friends or your network
Professional relationships - this can be colleagues at work, your doctor, your hairdresser or other people you interact with
Voter - if you live in a democracy you participate in elections maybe on local, regional or national scale
Worker - this relates to your profession and what you do for living
Consumer - what products or services you buy
Volunteer - this is similar as the worker except the fact that you don’t make a living of it
Freedom of speech - how you use your ability to speak up on platforms available to you
Investor - related to your pension, your capital and the funds you have
Donator - this is the money you give away
These are the areas, the roles, where you can make an impact and I’ll now write down how you can view sustainability and make changes in different sustainability aspects. Sustainability rests on three pillars; enviromental, social and economic (while some would argue there’s a fourth mostly labelled as cultural). What one must understand is that these are not three equal, replaceable or exchangeable areas. They are dependent and interacting but sustainability is where the environmental pillar sets the framework, the social is embedded within it while the economy is embedded within the social. Today, most scholars would argue that current systems has it the other way around. First comes economy, then social and last the environmental. Here are just a few common sustainability aspects and if you have other suggestions please comment and give your tips.
Peace and justice
Security and safety
Equal share of resources
For someone who really wants to live sustainable and make an impact in all areas, you would have to analyse each and every one of the above mentioned roles. Focus on the areas where you get the fastest and largest reduction in your environmental footprint. Then you would view your life and the choices you make from the social and at last the economical. In reality, is not that easy and from a human society perspective to put all the social and economic on the side for maximising the environmental would probably not be so successful. Our society is so far away from being within the planetary boundaries and the environmental ceiling that you would probably have to leave a comfortable life in western style and be self sustainable on a piece of land. But then you might lose the opportunity to make changes in other areas of your life.
What I would suggest you to do is to start to learn about sustainability and find which topic that interest you the most. Then you’ll seek ways to make changes in your different roles. For example when it comes to climate change, start by talking about it with your close ones, how do they feel about it? Are they aware? Start to read about different political parties stand on climate change and what policies they want to create to deal with the crisis. Then you can ask at work what your company, organisation etc. are doing to reduce their impact on the climate and how your work can create higher awareness of the crisis. You can ask whenever you’re in the store or going by transport how that particular company are transiting towards clean energy. You can also change your job (or start your own climate-solution-business?), or search for a volunteer opportunity or participate in climate demonstrations. With freedom of speech you can share documentaries (or make one yourself) on social media, write an article for your local newspaper or start following people that inspires you. As a consumer you can change the way you travel, eat and consume clothes. Divest in fossils by asking your bank about fossil free funds. And don’t underestimate the importance of donating money to organisations working in different ways with climate change. Further, if you have the capital, why not invest in clean energy or more sustainable food options?
Remember that regardless if you are passionate about social issues or environmental, they are mostly integrated and seldom they stand against each other. But sometimes they do. Should I buy fair trade certified honey from a women’s cooperative in Kenya or the local honey in Sweden? Should I vote for the party that call themselves feminists or the ones saying that they want to regulate use of chemicals in clothes? Should I go vegan or eat a diverse diet on local food? Should I change my job, or stay and use my spare time for volunteering?
What you do and how you do it is not so important. You don’t have to change everything, everywhere, at the same time. You can start in areas you’re mostly interested in, is it food, travels or clothes? What inspires you and what would you like to learn more about?
If you choose to be engaged in the rights of animals and people criticising you for not caring about children or organic farming. Well, one thing doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the other. Tell them, at least you have chosen something. At least you care. At least you try to do something, somewhere and that’s far better then doing nothing at all.
We have to start valuing people higher that takes a stand and choose to engage instead of blaming each other for not doing enough. When we do that we encouraging the people who haven’t decide to change to remain in their comfort zone.
More about different areas of change making in the upcoming days. For now, evaluate the areas in your life in relation to the sustainability aspects and ask yourself what will be your next area of change making?