Sustainability isn't Always More Interesting. But It Should Be.
Image credit: Reditus
A friend of mine sent me details of a series of courses she is running on sustainable living in Bristol, England. From local money, to allotment gardening skills, to the principles and systems of traditional cultures, Shift Bristol teaches a myriad of different interesting, intriguing, and unusual skills to cue people in on sustainability. And this got me thinking, Sustainability isn't just better for our planet. It's better for our souls too. Because let's face it, the old way of doing things is just getting boring. Don't get me wrong. There was a time when there was an excitement to deep sea oil exploration, building faster and faster cars, or developing shiny new shopping centers. But that time, for many at least, seems to be passing. We know we can solve almost any physical challenge if we throw enough fossil fuels at it (with the exception of fixing the Earth's climate of course...). We know we can build bigger, better and faster. We know we can make more money than we could possibly imagine by blowing up mountaintops, or sucking up all the oil from under the sea. (And chances are, folks won't remember for long when we do a terrible job of cleaning up our messes.) But if it's all so easy, where's the fun in that?
Learning to do things smarter, on the other hand, is where innovation and excitement really lies. A new generation of young people are rejecting a life lived in cubicles, but instead are pursuing backyard farming or local food entrepreneurship. Tech entrepreneurs are moving from building the fastest cars possible (yawn!), to building the fastest zero emission cars possible (now you're talking!). And many folks are rejecting suburbia in favor of a smaller, simpler but more vibrant downtown lifestyle.
I'm not saying that low carbon technologies or lifestyles will always be inherently more interesting—but I am saying we should make them so. Because as my colleague Jerry Stifelman and I argued in our Manifesto for Slow Business a while back, sustainability ain't sustainable unless everyone is doing it. And there's no better way to get everyone on board than to harness curiosity, fun and excitement.
So I for one am pledging to stay excited, interested and engaged, and to reject dreary, depressing visions of the future—wherever they come from.
Who's with me?