Demystifying Sustainability. How We Can Build the Sustainable Future, Together.

Sustainability is about doing good. It’s about balance and believing in respecting others equally. The wake-up call is here to save the world from ourselves.

Saygin Celen
Mar 2 · 10 min read
Nature always wins if we let it be. Design by the Author

Capitalism and consumerism have shaped a self-centered world in the last 100 years.

We need to redefine the complicated interactions people, companies and nature for the overall well-being of the world.

We live in a large space station called earth. For many, it looks big, young, beautiful, and endless. For a very long time, when the industrial revolution started, when 1% of 1% of 1% people realized that fossil fuels meant power, they felt the magnetism because as people learn about power, they want more according to many politicians who never want to leave their seats.

The use of the word: Sustainability, in time. Source: Google Books NGram Viewer

So, the young world was consumed and abused by the design of the oil moguls and heavy industrialists. It’s just like drinking every single day while you are young without thinking about what happens in 10 years. The short-term pleasure ruins the body and mind in the long term. There are millions of people in the world who drink heavily and they would not stop until they are awfully sick.

Then, 4 billion years old earth was in shock with how a species invaded its lands and seas in just a little over 100 years and caused it to have a slight fever permanently while still spearheading the same actions over and over again without thinking one moment of its vital consequences.

world population rise causing a less sustainable world
world population rise causing a less sustainable world
World population over time. The world population rose exponentially thanks to the industrial revolution. Source: Worldometers

The industrial revolution acted as a chain reaction for the population rise as well as the significant increase in consumption per person.

Sustainability isn’t only about industries or businesses, but it’s also about people and how they act towards anything or anyone they interact with because every individual is a part of the sum, and thanks to the internet and social media, anyone’s voice can be heard as I am doing right now.

It starts with the individual and it finally becomes the entire world. We are all interconnected.

I want to share with you my approach to sustainability ranging from an individual approach to a more governmental and global approach.

Finding The Balance of Personal Sustainability

US food consumption breakdown
US food consumption breakdown
Source: National Geographic

Food is a major issue of consumption in the US and most of the developed world because we are always in a hurry and the culture is shaped for short-term pleasure instead of a sustainable life that’s designed for balance and high value.

From the perspective of the companies, they basically produce what’s on-demand, and the system is designed so that they make the most profit without considering the long-term consequences of each part of the chain whether its production or the people who consume those products.

Because of the abundance of content throughout our lives whether it’s online or offline, people tend to look for what’s next instead of enjoying the present moment or the actual content.

Social Dilemma is an eye-opening documentary on Netflix. Source: The News Minute

The constant push of custom social content designed by social media companies makes people consume up to 3 hours of social media content daily that has very little to no value to their lives.

And in return, social media company managers and shareholders make billions of dollars at the expense of human attention as a product, which is completely unsustainable for society.

How couples meet has become a matter of a swipe and if one doesn’t work, then, it’s so easy to break up or not start at all and continue the cycle of swiping. This naturally makes the relations extremely superficial in time when people put little energy to get to know each other because there is always a chance to get to know another person in their pocket.

How the dating landscape changed in years. It should be ~80% after the pandemic. Source: Statista

As individuals, it’s hard to say that we are anywhere near to being conscious of a sustainable life.

Today, the US, as the wealthiest country in the world, has over 130 million people who are considered obese.

People still recycle only a limited amount of what they consume and they are nowhere close to valuing relations and content because most of what we do is about consuming the sources for what we immediately need at the moment instead of planting the seeds for a long-term solution.

Free market economy and capitalism bring about innovation and opportunities, however, when the system isn’t controlled with sustainable measures, a source that started with good intentions such as Facebook may become a means to create a time-killing machine that runs on our attention giving us serotonin boosts for each as we have from people we will never know.

I am really hopeful because society becomes smarter over time and eliminates addictions and bad habits in time by deep questioning.

Setting High Standards for Companies

One of the best examples of capitalism is the auto industry.

The Tesla we know today has a motor that works with the same principle that Nikola Tesla invented in 1887. So, we could have used the induction motor instead of an internal combustion engine from the very beginning. However, interests were already set, the oil industry meant money for the people who already had incredible power.

Induction motor designed by Nikola Tesla. The same principle is used in the Tesla cars now. Source: Test & Measurement Tips

Hence, electric vehicles were never paid attention to because they didn’t mean money for the powerful.

Especially, in the US, we live in a world that if you don’t own a car, you have almost no means to go from point A to B. The system was designed so that people drive their cars to go anywhere so that they consume oil and people who are really in charge become more powerful.

Every household owns 2 or more cars. Cities are invaded by so much car space that some cities spare 50% of their downtown area for cars.

Whereas the design could have been more about mass transportation especially in the cities. It’s not only about oil or owning a 1500 lbs monster to take one person to a place, but it’s also about the amount of time people spend in traffic jams.

Thanks to Tesla, the cars will now be all-electric in 2030. Tesla will also start Tesla Network as soon as level 5 auto-pilot ready for general use, which means people will be able to rent their cars without being in the cars to give rides.

This will result in other car brands doing the same and there will be much fewer cars in a city.

The second most important factor that adds to climate change is livestock.

Livestock is still increasing with the soaring world population and welfare. Source: Genetic Literacy Project

We became industrialized. Our welfare increased. Suddenly, there were more people and each one of them wanted to consume more meat.

What did capitalism do?

They fed the animals with hormones so that they could grow in a matter of weeks ready to be served fresh all over the world. They were kept in the tiniest of places and there were no animal rights for them.

All those hormones and chemicals humans consumed to bring food fast and fresh to their tables soared the cancer rate by 40%.

For each pound of meat, 1,799 pounds of water and 38 pounds of feed are required. There are over 20 billion animals for human consumption.

By 2050, there will be 9.6 billion in the world and meat consumption is estimated to grow by 70%, which is not possible to sustain.

Thanks to technology, we will soon have lab-grown meet with several companies working on the final product.

Sponsored by billionaires like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, companies like JUST and Mosa Meat.

The progress curve has been incredible and the first clean meat cost was $300,000 in 2013 and now, it’s down to $11.

It seems to me that technology and entrepreneurs will save humanity from itself. Anything done cannot be only humanly right for it to be accepted by the masses, it needs to feel great and be cost-effective just as in the Tesla case.

Governments as the Top of the Decision Pyramid

Governments have the power to create regulations and long-term goals. Source: Skanska USA

The US has been historically by far the most impactful government of all times and whatever we see today globally with regards to industries and cultures have been influenced directly by the US global mindset.

Thanks to US military research, today, we have the internet, satellites, planes, and GPS. These innovations have created our civilization like no other and boosted the acceleration of advancement 100-folds and made all humanity united.

Even though these innovations undoubtedly created their own universe of innovations and interactions, they also created their own unsustainable products.

In the last few years, we see the questioning of Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple CEOs in front of lawmakers and senators because they basically kill the competition or buy them out for more power monopolizing the internet.

The Big 4 are under close monitor by the government for unsustainable growth. Source: Business Insider

This will only stop when companies are regulated and when big fish isn’t allowed to eat the small fish creating a sustainable internet that’s good for competition and creation of new values by small players as well as the large companies.

The same is true for environmental policies. Because the economy is governed by oil, recklessness dominated the use of fossil fuels while oil moguls were making billions, starting wars, building roads and cities all around the oil economy.

Thanks to the internet, and bold billionaires such as Elon Musk and Bill Gates, we can expect to see impactful actions towards carbon capture and carbon tax first in the US and then, all around the world.

Carbon Tax is a simple and effective solution for climate change. Source: ITEP

Recently, Elon Musk tweeted about his $100M funding for the best carbon capture project, which is efficient and cost-effective. Currently, the least cost is $47/ton of CO2, which is still considerably high.

When Elon Musk spoke with the Biden administration representatives for the carbon tax, he said that he couldn’t get a clear response even though taxing the carbon-emitting companies for their level of use is the ultimate motivator to move towards a carbon-neutral economy.

Takeaways

We control what we can and when the system design is self-centered thanks to the liberal economy and free market, the ones who already have power created their own reckless system to use most of the resources unsustainably and this leads to a downward spiral from the government down to each and every individual.

What we can do individually is using unsustainable sources as little as possible and create our own sustainable lives, relationships, companies and participate in actions that lead to governmental policy changes.

As an individual, you can eat organic food, exercise, and meditate so that you can keep your physical and mental balance.

In our relationships, we can listen more and make sure others don’t get affected adversely by our actions. We can give and share more and in return, we will be cared about more and become happier.

We need to start sustainable companies that create the platforms for equal rights, creativity, career choices, and interaction to the employees while considering the well-being of our customers as if they are our own family and creating the least impact on the environment.

And the governments all-together are responsible for leading the way for a sustainable future taking strict measures against contamination of nature and health risks that products cause for the consumers.

Even though our individual lives are designed to be hectic because of the design of the economic system, I am confident that the consciousness of sustainability will increase dramatically in the coming years and beyond thanks mostly to the internet culture raising awareness each year.

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Saygin Celen

Written by

I like how children approach life, curious and playful, unbiased, and not afraid of mistakes. Tech entrepreneur in Austin. Get in touch: saygincelen.com

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +800K followers.

Saygin Celen

Written by

I like how children approach life, curious and playful, unbiased, and not afraid of mistakes. Tech entrepreneur in Austin. Get in touch: saygincelen.com

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +800K followers.

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