For decades now or at least since I was a little boy, the saying has been “Go Green.” While this slogan has captured much of the environmental sustainability movement — it has done little to shift the masses in their personal choices.
Let’s face it, sustainable development as outlined by the UN is seemingly unattainable in the 2030 target date they have given. This is not due to a lack of interest. On the contrary, many NGOs, government, and investment houses have begun to jump on the bandwagon. Yet, the SDGs as they are known, or Sustainable Development Goals remain elusive because the assumption is always that change must be top down. After all, the paradigm we have yearns to remain in tact, yet those who buy into claim that we must make hard choices or suffer the consequences.
As someone who believes that sustainable development is essential to create a more moral and spiritually inclined humanity, there is a fundamental disconnect behind the march towards the sustainability goals presented by the UN and achieving them on the ground.
Where does this gap come from?
The overriding belief is that the more money that is thrown at a problem, the more likely a solution to that given problem will be solved. While money is important in finding solutions to challenges, how we approach a problem and its given solution is key.
For years sustainable development challenges have always been approached by finding solutions that will retain our way of life. While this might have made sense 30 years ago, it makes far less sense now. We no longer live in an economy driven industries but rather have transitioned into a consumer society where everything is at our fingertips.
Decisions about buying a product are typically made in haste and when one product is bought another is immediately sought after to fulfill an individual’s unsatied desire to simply have what they see. Our world has been driven to the edge because of this consumerist modality pushed by big corporations. Remember, when we buy something there is a factory behind that product. These factories are not driven by the same interests as those interested in sustainable development, clean environment, or sound financial planning.
Make no mistake, these corporations want us to buy. The more we buy the better we feel and the more money these corporations make. The problem is, all of this buying is producing waste and creating more debt and stress on the global financial system. Not to mention the biggest impact of all — internal stress on one’s family and self. No one really has money to keep up the type of buying necessary to make the buyer and his or her family feel fulfilled.
Imagine the size of the carbon foot print that exists on all of our purchases. From the manufacturing, to the shipping, to the marketing, and delivery, the carbon foot print must be enormous.
We are essentially creating an ever growing bubble around us that in turn global institutions are searching to find sustainable solutions to keep the current system afloat.
How Can We Change?
The answer is simple — go lean. The more we cut out the more help reduce the negative impact we are having on the world. In reality every time we buy something we don’t reality need we are in a sense empowering the same forces we are hoping someone else comes in and mitigates. By cutting back we are reducing their power to wage war on our own world and our lives.
The sustainable development goals of the UN are important, but without an internal change within us as a society, they will remain outside of our grasp. Real change will only occur when we realize how much our own choices affect our reality. Until then, our current malaise will unfortunately continue.