When we have peace, then we have a chance to save the planet. But if we are not united in peace, if we do not practice mindful consumption, we cannot save our planet.
–Thich Nhat Hanh
Canada’s environmental patron saint, David Suzuki, penned an insightful piece on the importance of mindful consumption. Though published back in 2011, its relevance today is still paramount. While there is a tendency to wave away the consequences of our daily actions, and shrug off the light-speed depletion of our natural resources on overpopulation, Suzuki discloses the reality behind the current–and future–state of our earth:
“(…) When we look at issues that are often blamed on overpopulation, we see that overconsumption by the most privileged is a greater factor in rampant environmental destruction and resource depletion.”
He goes on to share some pointed, revealing facts about who is bearing the most responsibility for the way things are going:
“North Americans, Europeans, Japanese, and Australians, who make up 20 percent of the world’s population, are consuming more than 80 percent of the world’s resources. We are the major predators and despoilers of the planet, and so we blame the problem on overpopulation.”
Sharing responsibility for sustainable living
When we’re used to a particular lifestyle, it can be difficult to open our eyes to the truth. Further, what happens when certain people–or, more specifically, certain corporations–have such a large impact on our planet? As Suzuki notes:
“Keep in mind, though, that most environmental devastation is not directly caused by individuals or households, but by corporations driven more by profits than human needs.”
Staying true to our values
We actually hold an incredible amount of power in our voting dollar. We are all free-agents; we can choose to purchase sustainable products from respectable companies that we know are helping us work toward a better future. When we do, we’re not only helping the environment, but ourselves too: making choices that align with our values actually reduces the amount of stress we feel in our day-to-day lives.
Making mindful choices as consumers, like the 100% recyclable and sustainable Soma water filter, is an effective way to actively live out our eco-friendly values. Another simple solution is bringing a re-usable cup when we’re out, in order to reduce the amount of paper cups we use with take-away beverages like coffee. I have to admit that reading this fact is really helping to motivate me to do so:
6.59 million trees would be saved in one year if everyone in the U.S. stopped using paper cups.
Simple sustainable living
There are innovative sustainable designs coming out every day to help us turn our planet around. Albeit, while many vary in their levels of pragmatism, there’s no telling when something will turn out to be a revolutionary tool. For example, Vancouver-based company Nomad has been making headlines with their new, sustainable micro home design by re-imagining what the term ‘home’ means in the first place. Starting at $25,000, these small 10×10 structures are a part of the company’s goal to:
“reduce consumerism and focus on an affordable and sustainable housing option for the largest portion of our society: hard-working individuals who can’t make ends meet due to the high cost of living. Adding our pre-engineered green packages for solar energy, rainwater collection, and grey water treatment can take NOMADs right off the grid.”
Still in the early stages, the company is in the midst of a fundraising campaign. Numerous factors will need to be taken into consideration when assessing how appropriate one of these might be for our individual lifestyles.
Perusing the comments at the end of numerous articles that have been written about this newfangled design shows a split between those for and against it, along with myriad unanswered questions about logistical issues, such as paying for the actual land on which the micro home resides. Aimed at people with a nomadic lifestyle, the micro home also raises the question of whether the trend of shifting to a more location-independent lifestyle might actually create a larger carbon footprint, rather than a more sustainable one. As this thoughtful commenter writes:
“This kind of design embodies concepts that I read about in Future Shock. I think it is design in the right direction. However increasing nomadism may have an iatrogenic effect on energy consumption.” –James
With general reactions ranging from humorous (“finally, someone has made portable grow ops”) to enthusiastic (“I love these! How do I buy one?”) to livid (“allowing people to endlessly subdivide their properties into ghettos of tiny houses is ridiculous and it’s exacerbating the already critical overpopulation problem”), these sustainable micro homes will require some further investigation before their genuine effectiveness is revealed.
Regardless of whether these micro homes become a key tool for sustainable living, their core conceptual values remain strong–now is the time to simplify our lives.
You are a child of the sun, you come from the sun, and that is something true with the Earth also… your relationship with the Earth is so deep, and the Earth is in you and this is something not very difficult, much less difficult then philosophy.
–Thich Nhat Hanh