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Mindset

How to Live Sustainably

In everything we do there is a need for greener behavior. We have grown used to a lifestyle that is comfortable but is harming our planet and life on it. It’s nice to be able to take the plane when we travel; to buy cheap products wrapped in plastic; to throw away instead of fixing. But it all adds to the climate crisis. We need to rethink our behavior and create sustainable systems of living that support instead of threatening life. Every one of us is responsible for our future.

But what can we do as individuals and what as a community? Let’s take a look.

Sustainable Behavior

Most of our actions are done unconsciously. You probably don’t give it much thought when you brush your teeth in the morning, tie your shoes before leaving home, or check your phone throughout the day. However, it’s with those small actions that we must start in order to make our behavior more sustainable. For instance: What’s in your toothpaste? How were your shoes produced? How often do you buy a new phone?

Does it really matter, you might think. Yes, more than you may expect. For that reason:

  1. Go through your day: How does a regular day look? Which activities and actions does it include? Add details. Remember the small, unimportant actions too.
  2. Look at the activities one by one: Looking at how you brush your teeth – which toothpaste do you use? Do you let the water run while brushing? How much plastic is involved? You can do this with every activity to become aware of where you can improve your behavior.
  3. #TakeAction: How can you change your behavior to make it more sustainable? Where can you reduce the amount of plastic you use? Where can you reduce your carbon footprint? To inspire you, you can have a look here or watch the video below:

This might sound awfully like nitty-gritty navel-gazing, but your habits as a consumer, customer, and citizen are powerful for bringing about systemic change. Companies, governments, and society at large will only know how to change if you show them through your behavior and consumer choices. So let’s look at sustainable systems next.

Sustainable Systems

It’s not enough that we as individuals change our habits. We have to act as a global community to really solve the issue of climate change. For that, systemic change comes into play.

The systems we are involved in have a decisive influence on our lives. For example, the educational system shapes our behavior and our mindset immensely. Depending on how free, how creative, how innovative, how social our school is/was, we become more or less free, creative, innovative, and social in our thinking and doing later on.

And the educational system is but one of many systems currently shaping our behavior. Here are a few more examples:

  • Political system: shapes how responsible we feel, how much power we have to influence our society, how engaged we are in our community, what rights we have, what values we share, etc.
  • Social systems: shape how we think of family structures and relationships, how we interact with each other, how connected we feel, how the elderly and the youth are treated, how inclusive we are, etc.
  • Transportation system: shapes our relationship to our mobility, how we travel short and long distances, how interconnected we are, etc.
  • Waste management system: shapes how we think about our trash and our consumption, how we use our resources, how we treat nature, etc.
  • Health systems: shape our relationship to our physical and mental well-being, how highly we prioritize our health, and what culture surrounds illness, etc.

Imagine if these systems were redesigned to become more sustainable. To give you an idea of how this could look, consider these scenarios:

  • Transportation system: Cars are banned and substituted with a public transportation network that’s cheap, reliable, accessible, and well-connected as well as with a comfortable bike lane infrastructure. Trains are improved to make it a comfortable alternative to planes (or e-planes are developed).
  • Health systems: Preventative measures such as organic food and clean water is made the standard. Outdoor activities are introduced in workspaces and schools to improve our relationship to nature and fresh air. Hospitals are powered by renewable energy.
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