Can Living Sustainably Actually Be Done?

Guest blog post by Kalie Fallon, an Intern for Defend Our Future Ohio. Katie is a student at OSU in the School of Environment and Natural Resources | Class of 2018.  Her focus is on Environmental Policy and Decision Making. We welcome her thoughts below reflecting on the challenge of living sustainably. As Kalie notes, there are multiple pieces of the puzzle if we are to live sustainably. Editor, Chuck Lynd

Can Living Sustainably Actually Be Done?

People hear the word “sustainability” and they don’t truly know what it means. Perhaps most people have a vague idea, or know the one sentence definition directly from the textbook. But sustainability is more than just a sentence. It is more than “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.” It is so much more complex than that one little statement allows it to be. It includes an almost infinite amount of puzzle pieces: water, air, energy, plastic, waste, fast fashion, animal agriculture, transportation, CO2 emissions, greenhouse gasses – this and that and more of this. It’s easy to get lost in the ongoing list of environmental problems we are facing today. It is easy to ignore the word “sustainability” and leave the puzzle for someone else to figure out.

But living in a sustainable manner can be done. The puzzle pieces can be conquered, one at a time. Day by day; week by week. Little actions adding up to big impacts. Challenging ourselves to take that one step further because we know we can. As a collective whole, we have the technology and the information we need in order to make a difference. We have the brain power and the amazing gift of the human imagination. We have the power to make choices, and live sustainably. Almost every action we take today can be done in a more sustainable way with the same outcome. Plastic switched for metal, glass, or paper. Fossil fuels switched for renewables. Burgers swapped for black beans. Concrete jungles for urban gardens. It can be done. It is being done right now. The question we have to ask ourselves is can we be better than we were yesterday? Can we take that challenge, find our puzzle pieces, and rearrange them to make a sustainable lifestyle? Can we motivate others to do the same?

Rather it is on the individual, organizational, or collective level, we need these changes to happen, and we need them to happen now. Yes, sustainability is complex. But our minds have proven to us again and again that complexity doesn’t serve as an excuse to ignore a problem. Living sustainably is possible.

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