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Sustainability and Sustainable Living

June 28th, 2010


While the term ‘sustainability’ is broad its core meaning is: to maintain or keep in existence. It applies to both the environmental world and the existence of human beings. Environmentally sustainability applies to the continuous diversity and productiveness of biological systems. For humans it is the ability to maintain well being for our current generation and generations to come. One depends on the other.

One big factor that is changing the way people think about sustainability is global warming. Global warming, the increase in the average temperature of earth’s near-surface air and oceans, is in part caused by the increase of greenhouse gases, which are a result of human activity. One example is deforestation. Global warming and recent natural disasters have caused people to think more about sustainability and sustainable living.

‘Sustainable living’ is based on decisions, whereby an individual or a group of individuals, such as a family or society, attempt(s) to reduce their use of the earth’s natural resources, as well as his/her own resources, in order to meet economical, environmental, and societal needs. Also known as ‘carbon footprint,’ an individual or group can decide to alter things in their life for the betterment of the planet’s resources, such as reducing energy consumption, diet, or transportation. Green businesses also choose and decide to conduct their practices in alignment with sustainable living by incorporating sustainable design and development into their business practices, such as a farmer who grows sustainable foods.

Ever since 1854, when the earliest piece of literature to distinctively address the idea of sustainable living—Henry David Thoreau’s Walden—there has been an awareness to meet economical, environmental, and societal needs without jeopardizing these three needs for future generations to come. Henry David Thoreau was one of the earliest environmentalists who spent a great amount of time contemplating nature and our impact on our world.

It is in meeting these three needs—economical, environmental, and societal—and keeping them in balance that result and will result in humankind’s ability to maintain its existence. Each individual’s impact and the population of a community, as well as the resources being used, renewable or not, affect the total environmental impact in which we live.

For many people, making the switch to a sustainable lifestyle can be overwhelming, with not being sure where to start. From switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to riding a bicycle to run errands to preparing family meals made with organic foods from a garden, there are many easily incorporated practices that can help people live a more sustainable lifestyle. Do you incorporate sustainable living practices into your life and on a continuous basis? If so, what changes have you made in your lifestyle to lesson your carbon footprint? How did you begin to live more sustainably?

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Big Garden-Small Carbon

June 6th, 2010

To determine your “carbon footprint” means to measure the amount of greenhouse gases that you or your organization is adding to the atmosphere. The term was coined from carbon dioxide, the primary human contributor to climate change. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it traps solar heat in our atmosphere ‘changing’ our climate’s typical patterns.

Everything has a carbon footprint, whether it’s the car you drive, the shoes on your feet or the food at your table. Food requires energy to be grown and is a globally transported commodity. That’s a lot of attention for a tomato.

Whenever you use energy created from fossil fuels, you’re generating carbon emissions. To offset your carbon emissions, or become carbon-neutral, simply means to neutralize your part in the polluting of our environment.

As a green consumer, may people wonder how they can be more sustainable or offset their impact on the planet. Since carbon dioxide emissions are the principal human cause of climate change, carbon offsets are the key to promoting a greener environment. A carbon offset represents the carbon dioxide emissions accounted for in a verified project that reduces CO2 in the atmosphere. Offsetting your lifestyle or business is a great way to market yourself as sustainable, separate yourself from competitors and do your part to combat climate change. Be creative, you can offset nearly anything!

Like EcoAid, Humble Seed’s goal is to show that environmental activism is smart, proactive and part of a good business model. That’s why their product promotes growing locally, skipping the need to transport and grow food away from your backyard. Not everyone has space for an entire farm, but an herb or chili pepper garden is a great start.

Brendan Cook
Brendan is the sustainability director for EcoAid and can help you or your organization start saving money and being sustainable.

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