Back to Listing

How can we make our lives more sustainable?

07 March 2011

In an increasingly expanding and complex society, everything seems to be outsourced. It seems we have become totally reliant on external producers for the basics of our existence e.g. water, utilities, transport, childcare, education and food production. How sustainable is this in the long term? How can we re-claim our ability to think and act sustainably to avoid being held to random by some producers who might be entirely focused on economic gain rather than long-term sustainability?

Let's take two examples: power and food production. Outsourcing these two forms of production ignores the reality of a 'systems perspective' whereby every system influences another. Centralisation of electrical power leaves the consumer with little choice when costs regularly increase unless an alternative exists. If we outsource the solution to someone else to decide whether renewable energy systems are viable, we might think they are not and in turn, work longer hours to afford our increasing costs of living. How sustainable is this? Consider the impacts on our health, well-being, family life and relationships? Food production of meat, for example, in Australia relies heavily on factory farming. Over 600 million animals are subjected to extreme cruelty and misery in factory farms, pigs for example, never seeing daylight or an environment beyond the narrow confines of a crate no bigger than their bodies, until they are slaughtered. When food is produced under such barbaric conditions, it undoubtedly impacts on our health and well-being. One does not need scientific evidence to realise that the quality of our food is directly influenced by the quality of its production. However, in our busy lives, we find little time to research and examine alternatives and yet alone grow our own food.

However, re-thinking our choices is essential for our long-term health and sustainability. We do have choice regarding alternative sources of power and food production. In Australia, the energy that could be converted from the sun that falls on a domestic dwelling far exceeds the usage that the majority of homeowners use. Food produced locally, if not grown in our own gardens but sourced from co-operatives or local organic farms is far more nutritious and has not traveled thousands of miles to reach us.

We must not outsource to the government or other professionals the decision or action to live more sustainably. Each of us can choose for ourselves. We can research alternative energy resources from people who have proved its worth. We can also change our food buying habits and lobby our supermarkets. For example, we could complete feedback forms imploring supermarkts to increase their sale of nationally and locally sourced products and no longer sell meat produced in factory farms.

And if you think a small difference can't make a huge impact, remember Gandhi when he said 'If you don't think something small can make a difference, then try going to bed with a mosquito!'