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A Sustainable Design Blog

What Will You Sacrifice for Sustainability?

by Jennifer Stewart | Jun 24, 2016 | Sustainability

Today I watched a short video about what the world would be like without packaging. It was supposed to be funny, showing a guy visiting a farm and carrying milk in his hands in order to put it on his cereal (apparently a bowl is now considered a package), but instead it made me sad. Sad because we used to live in a world without so much packaging waste, and sad because that world is one that even the greenest buyer doesn’t want to return to.

In 2010, Hans Rosling presented this great TED talk about how eliminating poverty is also creating our dire environmental situation. This is because those on the lowest rung of the income ladder also produce the least impact, whereas those living about $30k per year are creating the most. Moving people up on the ladder is a humanitarian goal but, as Kellie explained, it also creates a secondary humanitarian crisis.

Rosling explains that even the greenest consumer refuses to compromise their time and comfort for the sake of the planet. We may get rid of our cars, but only because we have car shares and transit. We will not be washing our jeans by hand or cooking by fire. We won’t be doing these things because, as Rosling points out, the convenience of our polluting developments gives us time to develop our minds, our bodies, and our relationships. Giving that up would be a huge sacrifice, indeed.

We don’t want to go backwards, but we cannot continue this trend forward and expect our planet and our species to survive. I don’t know if there will come a time when people are expected to make great sacrifices in order to reverse or mitigate climate change, or if the need for comfort will always override logic. Until that time comes, I want to take the time to question what those sacrifices might be and what I can do to prevent them.

Jennifer Stewart is the Office Manager and wanna-be organizational psychologist at Modern Species. For more posts from her, click here.

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It’s too big a world to be in competition with everybody else, the only guy I have to get better than is who I am right now.- Col. Potter on Mash