By Adrian Assassi Personal sustainability means different things to different people. To some, personal sustainability is practicing yoga, managing stress, and eating healthy. Others see it as foregoing their car, becoming vegan, and attempting to live carbon neutral. Whatever one’s particular flavor happens to be, the ultimate goal of this lifestyle is usually pretty consistent: to live in a way that keeps one healthy, happy and recharged.
However, some of these behaviors seem to conflict with personal sustainability’s twin sibling: environmental sustainability. Maybe driving to that yoga class or ordering Andean quinoa makes one feel happy and alive, but it also produces CO2 and supports a possibly unsustainable system of farming, shipping, manufacturing, construction, yada yada…
Another perplexing problem arises when one tries to reconcile personal sustainability with the issue of an over-populated planet. Some contend that our global population is already too big or about to be too big in regards to our ability to feed everyone and maintain our current standards of living. So, if this is the case, then everyone’s capacity to be personally sustainable is potentially at risk.
These conundrums pose a serious threat to anyone trying to market a product or service that is intended to facilitate personal sustainability. A “glass is half empty” sentiment could see a medicine that cures an ailment, farming method that allows crops to be more densely grown, or a water purification device that cleanses water, as exasperations of overpopulation and thus inherently non-sustainable!
The mind reels.
Alas! Take hope and comfort in the fact that the other side of the coin is that environmental sustainability must be precluded by personal sustainability to occur! Zachary Zahan puts it very well by saying:
We must address our personal sustainability and contentment and make sure we are in line with the laws of nature enough that we do not want more than we need, we do not desire more than is good for us, we do not crave what poisons our body and depletes our vitality, and covers our soul with a heavy dark veil.
Internally first of all, and then externally will follow.
So, don’t throw out that yoga mat or great idea for a water purifier, because you cannot take care of others until you take care of yourself.