Apr 25, 2007

Caution: Heady and (local) Wine Influenced

Lately, some other environmentally bent bloggers (Colin Beavan and Sara Gottlieb ) have questioned what we're sustaining, where we draw the lines of our commitments to conservation. Without reading any research on this line of conservation theory, here's a basic outline of what I think sustainability means, and the way that I approach those goals.

When I refer to sustainability, I'm addressing human lifestyles that will allow the persistence of the range of life forms that we currently enjoy on Earth. Most important to me, is the preservation of habitats such that all species can play out their destinies without an overbearing human influence. I take an eco-centric view of life, not prizing humanity above the rest to the extent that this is possible. I am human after all.

Clearly people are part of nature, and thus enjoy the same sanctity that I ascribe to life, in general. Clearly our actions must be viewed in this context of humans as part of nature. Some folks see a division between the tech fix greenies and the simple lifers. I guess I fall closer to the simple lifer side without rejecting the places where technology can help us.

I try to view sustainability through a community lens, which becomes more difficult as we globalize and homogenize, attempting to convince the world that the US standard of living should be a goal. My ecological footprint needs to be such that I'm not personally overdrawing resources to the detriment of other species, and indeed to the detriment of my own kind in less wealthy regions of the world.

As I've come to these conclusions (which I'm sure will transform over time) I've found a need to examine my life in terms of the basics (food, water, shelter, family) and modern human existences (transportation, employment, societial position). I feel I should consume resources at a rate that allows their regeneration in such time that those resources, and any others dependent upon them, do not disappear as a result of my wants.

Colin asked what lines we draw. I feel like I draw the line at my health, and I even weigh that (a bit obsessively) at times. So I'm healthy enough to get around by bike, so I ride. But I need anti-inflammatories so I take them! I'm a healthy vegetarian w/o supplements. I was an unhealthy vegan, even with supplements.

I also draw a line where privilege meets right. This is perhaps the most difficult to define, and it is highly personal. I believe in a right to food, water, shelter, self determination, and knowledge. I find our abilities to attain these are highly variable. I only aspire that my own pursuit of these rights allow other people and life the same opportunities.


Christine said...

Very well put Rachael. This is great thing you are doing. Keep up the good work, and please know that others really respect you and the Compact.

R said...

I posted a comment to a personal finance blog http://www.getrichslowly.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1379#1379

about this very idea this morning. Okay, it wasn't exactly about this drawing the line thing but it was about the cost of choosing paper or plastic in a small farmer's market business. That is, making a choice and finding a reasonable way to survive the effects of it. The immediate responses were very gratifying because they pointed me in a direction that will actually provide a solution. I intend to find a way to provide a cloth shopping bag for local farmer's markets like mine and make it affordable by showing them how if they all contribute towards purchasing the initial order their own individual cost of providing bags will go down. We do have to draw a line and then do something about it.

Oh yeah, I ride my bike everywhere . . . too.

Mandarina said...

Rachel, this is one of the best considered answers to this question that I've seen. I too devoted a post to following up on No Impact Man's question - taking a different tack with it.

I'd love it if you could link to my Australian blog at www.questionmarque.blogspot.com