Monday, August 31, 2009

Sustainability and Our Role

There are a number of programs on television where the host travels the world, eating regional dishes ... favorites of the area. You know the ones ... there's a host family or chef ready to introduce us to the culinary delights of their ancestors and the proud tradition of cooking. Usually, before actually cooking up the feast, they take us on a tour of their local markets. There will be table after table of beautiful, mouth-watering produce ... and then they'll turn and enter the impressive fish market. Here, one will find every imaginable (and unimaginable) type of fish ... lots of fish .. TONS of fish.

Whenever I see these programs, I think ... it's one day, in one town, in one country ... and they have taken tons of fish from the waters. This happens every single day, year after year, in towns all over the world. It makes me wonder ... what will happen when there is nothing left?

It's the same with many of our natural resources ... we consume for the here and now without much thought about tomorrow. And quite frankly, that's exactly how advertising agencies want to keep it. Whether it's because we buy into the idea that we need more and more stuff, or because we enjoy our comforts, or because there are just so many people walking the earth ... the fact is that, for the most part, we don't live sustainably.

Sustainability, simply put, is the capacity to endure. Humans do much more than endure, however ... we over consume, we accumulate lots of stuff ... we have allowed ourselves to believe that we NEED more of everything. Commerce accommodates us ... which means we deplete natural resources ... at alarming rates. The human species is enduring and growing and thriving ... but, because of it, many plant and animal species are not. So, I ask again, what will happen when there is nothing left? What will become of humans?

My personal belief is that humans won't endure ... that if we continue to use up everything, a point will come when we don't have anything. And that particular "end" won't be pretty!

Can we stop the madness? Sure! We can do all the things that make sense ... the things that native peoples have practiced for generations ... the things that we were taught as children but have, more than likely, forgotten. Things like taking only what we need. Things like thinking about the big picture ... understanding that while one purchase by one person may not mean much, one purchase by a whole lot of people might have a big impact. All of the ideas that we've talked about in this blog ... buying local, reducing consumption, recycling ... they all contribute to a sustainable lifestyle. There are other concepts which we haven't talked about, like population control (hello Octo-mom).

The point is ... we have to think about our actions and choose those that maintain life for generations to come. If we take one fish and leave the others to propagate and grow, we'll have fish for another day. If we take all the fish ... we'll have nothing.

As always ... I would love to here from you!