This blog was originally based on a course ran by Professor Nick Gray of the Trinity Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin who also wrote a textbook for the module Facing up to global warming: What is going on and what you can do about it. Now working as an independent consultant, Nick continues to work in the area of environmental sustainability and looking at ways of making a difference without recriminations or guilt. Saving the planet is all about living sustainably.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Living Sustainability in a Modern World

“I am going to say a phrase, and as soon as you hear it, I want you to shout out the first thing that comes into your head. The phrase is: Living Sustainability.” When I asked this of my three friends while walking home from college, I was rather surprised at their responses, “hemp pants”, “hippies”, “recycling”. The latter I didn’t find shocking, however the two former reminded me that many people do not understand what is means to live sustainably in today’s world.

I admit, I do cringe at the sight of photos of my parents in their youth armed with Birkenstocks, long flowing hair (dad included), and a picket sign with a hand-painted slogan about saving the earth. However 30 years down the road a lot has changed on the front of living sustainability.

Not only has living green edged away from its hippie environmentalist stereotype, it has actually become a trendy way of life! So if you aren’t motivated enough by the impending destruction of our planet, do it to be hip. The new faces of sustainability are renowned designers Stella McCartney, Eileen Fischer, Levi’s, J Brand, to name a few, all whom have complete lines of organic clothing manufactured in minimal energy-using environments.

The support from celebrated Hollywood names to create awareness to environmental issues has also been astronomical. People like Ian Somerlander, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt have started their own foundations to protect rainforests, plant trees, or even just promote the use of energy-efficient light bulbs.

What the endorsement of these celebrities should help us understand is that saving the planet is no longer just a job for the environmentally conscious hippie, but for all of us. Every single thing we do has an impact on the planet, whether good or bad. The good news is that we are in complete control of our personal decisions, meaning we are also in complete control of our personal impact on the environment.

To live sustainably is to alter your lifestyle to cater to the needs of our planet to improve its health today, as well as improving the situation for future populations (no hemp pants required).

Fiona Saluk

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