Sustainability and life in abundance
In today’s modern consumers’ life throughout the developed world, more and more natural resources are consumed every day. More than 100 000 babies are born every day which means every day we need more food, more water, more everything. But with that we are destroying our planet and it cannot continue in such manner much longer – we need to start living more sustainably. But what really is sustainability?
In short, sustainability is self preservation. So then what do humans need to live? We need air to breath, water to drink and food to prevent starvation – air and water that we are currently polluting, and food that is being wasted. We in the so called developed countries live in abundance and have the luxury of running water that is drinkable, full grocery stores with constant supply of fresh food and high industrial standards that enforce clean air. A lot of other countries don’t have such commodities.
Firstly, water is life, especially drinkable water. Even though we live on a planet that is ¾ covered by water only about 2.5% of that is fresh water, the rest is salt water. What’s more, current chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe from the the biggest producer of food products Nestlé believes that “access to water is not a public right.” such as many other corporations which are trying to privatize those 2.5%. While according to UN almost half of the planet’s population still lacks access to safe drinking water.
In addition to that, the oceans aren’t pristine clean either – they are filled with plastic, and owing to water currents it’s all accumulating into islands some of which are estimated to be up to the size of Australia. These islands are partially made of plastic particles that look like food to fish, due to that they get into the food chain. Another thing that is entering the food chain through water is drugs. Pharmaceutical pollution is becoming an increasing problem. Expired or unused drugs might get disposed wrongly, hormonal drugs are being excreted from our bodies and released into nature.
Secondly, speaking of the food chain according to a study from the WWF about 18 million tons of still edible food are being wasted every year in Germany alone which equals to 48 million tons of unnecessary released greenhouse gases. That would be around 300 kg every second in average simply thrown away while there are still millions of people suffering from hunger and dying of starvation. Large scale corporate logistics aiming for improvement rather than profit could be a plausible solution that can for one aid to lower our emissions and help with the issue of world hunger.
Supermarkets here in Europe and in the US are always full with only the best and freshest food for the consumer, we can enjoy fruits even during winter thanks to South American and African farms owned by corporations. The consumer dictates through his or her buying habit what the grocery store offers which in return dictates what farmers produce. Therefore there are two options to reduce the food wasting either to become more independent and grow your own food or through data collection and analysis. Lots of stores have membership cards which grant some sales but these cards could be used to collect data for the supermarkets. The collected data could then be analyzed and certain buying patterns would emerge which could be used to fill the store with the right about of products and not to over stack on everything and dump what is reaching its “best before date”. This would allow farms in developing countries to only ship away what’s necessary and the rest could be shipped to where it’s needed.
Thirdly, as mentioned before greenhouse gases and thus air pollution are often discussed these days but there’s not much that is being done about it.
Most of this air pollution we cause results from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, natural gas, and gasoline to produce electricity and power our vehicles. Yes people are starting to switch to hybrid/electric cars, some are even installing solar panels but that isn’t enough. The main issue is we still rely and depend on fossil fuels, only about 20% of the electricity created worldwide comes from a renewable source. Most of the power comes from the combustion of coal or oil and that produces high amounts of CO2 as well as fine particles which not only are bad for our health but also bad for the environment as we know it. So why aren’t there world wide industrial standards put in place to control emission levels and try to minimize them? These standards do exist in most western countries but not globally which allows companies to outsource and move their location to counties where they can burn and poison the land they occupy however they want. Why isn’t there a law that enforces cargo ships to reduce their carbon footprint and sulfur oxide emissions through technologies like the skysail which can be retrofitted on almost every cargo ship? Lastly countries should follow the example of France which requires its citizens to use new built rooftops either as a green space or as a solar power plant which both helps with the issue of air pollution.
What we need is a drastic change in people’s mindset about life and long term sustainable thinking.
Sustainability should not be up for deciding, with the rapid population growth and depilation of our resources we cannot continue to live in the fashion we have grown so accustomed to because one day we might not have a choice anymore because it will be too late to live sustainably. Therefore as wrong as it sounds corporations and the government need to take action and choose suitability, take away the choice from the masses.