• The Sustainable Student | Guest Author

how to achieve self-empowerment through sustainable living.

In the face of the current global environmental crisis, it is logical to feel powerless. As only one person in billions, it is easy to feel like your part doesn’t matter, it does. Not just for the world as a whole but for you as individuals.

leafy plant \ fully grown

As sentient beings we identify primarily with our individual body-mind, it is easy for us to observe and influence our personal environment. We next come to identify with the close-knit social groups in which we live, through conversing and learning we are able to affect the decisions of one another. Over time, with the help of advancing communication technologies and globalisation we have come to identify with our planetary community but can do little to change it.

The environmental issue that we face transverses borders, languages and beliefs. Whilst some communities will be hit much harder and some people will go on with life unchanged, it is certain that our rich Earth will suffer as a whole.

If we continue on our current path rivers will run dry, soil will become void of nutrients and waste management will become impossible. I have faith that through our collective innovative effort and the changing views of people, companies and governments we will once again bring balance to the global ecosystem. The question is how much irreversible damage will have already been done by crossing ecological tipping points?

Whilst you are unlikely to have the influence of a prominent climate scientist or environmental activist, every decision you make will have its impact. Whatever habits you break, whichever changes you make, however big or small are a vital part of our sustainability transition.

focus on fine margins to reduce your personal impact.

Kaizen is a Japanese term used to describe one’s ability to improve, essentially to get better at getting better. As humans we find comfort in habit and are naturally averse to change. However, our ability to change the way we live is the only viable solution to our current environmental predicament.

The first habit you break in the name of sustainable living is hard, but empowering. The next is a little easier but its positive impact on the future of our beautiful Earth is just as great. Soon it becomes a hobby to find sustainable solutions in all aspects of your life. Each seemingly insignificant conscious change you make in the name of sustainability will physically leave its legacy on our world. Over a lifetime and spanning across vast populations these fine margins become tectonic shifts in our relationship with our planet.

The university of Oxford calculates that in the UK, we produce 0.21 kg of plastic waste per person, per day. Considering we currently recycle 45% of our plastic waste this means the average person leaves behind 34.5kg of waste per year. It is only when we once again extrapolate to the macrocosm of 21st century populations that the enormity of the issue becomes clear. In a back-of-a-napkin calculation, incorporating the UK’s population and life expectancy, that manageable 34.5kg becomes over 188 Billion kg of waste over a generation. The is an insurmountable challenge when approached in its enormity. As individuals we can only influence the small margins of our own lives. Grab a reusable coffee cup, a refillable rice container or a multiuse straw and do your part for the sustainable movement.

The rest is up to humanity.

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