Personal Sustainability: The Path to Worldwide Environmental Sustainability

This world is founded on some basic laws, including cause and effect. Every action has a reaction. Every cause has an effect. And we may think that we’re all separate beings in this world, separate beings and entities. But in reality, we are all connected, we are all intertwined, and we are all One. And thus it follows: for everything we do, it has an effect not only on us, but on everyone else and everything else around us and even beyond.

So, we are tackling the problem of environmental fragility today. And how did we get to this place? How did we get to this situation?

Of course, there are a lot of scientific explanations, political explanations, systematic explanations, and so on.

But how did we get here, really?

By every action ever made — by us, by others, and by all of us combined.

By every thought.

By every feeling and every want or need in our hearts and expressed in our thoughts, our words, and our actions.

We can see that no matter how hard we try, we will fail to address the problems we face today if we don’t address our own personal sustainability and situation. What do I mean by personal sustainability?

We must, of course, live “sustainably” materially/physically — not going beyond our fair share, our limits, in the resources we use and the waste we produce. And, of course, this is a hard thing to do in the society we live in because of all the “unsustainable” systems we rely on. (See A New Vision of Sustainability: To Live Satisfactorily? for a little more on this topic.) But, how did these systems come into place! Not just by mundane, practical, physical errors in our thinking and evaluation of cost and benefit, cause and effect. But, also, more fundamentally, by our needs that we were expressing, our desires that we were pursuing, our human shortcomings that we were allowing to take over our human strengths. And so, we built systems, created systems, that came out of these and were unsustainable themselves, just as the original desires and needs were unsustainable.

And so, what will bring us out of these unsustainable systems! Not just changing the systems themselves, but changing the whole way we are living with ourselves, in ourselves — by changing the needs we have, the wants we have, and the actions we make that are unsustainable themselves. By bringing ourselves into balance: this is how we will bring our world and our systems (ecological, political, social, economic, and so on) into balance!

We must address ourselves first.

We must address our unsustainable needs.

We must address our unsustainable and unbalanced desires.

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.

We must be sustainable.

Internally first of all, and then externally will follow.

Everything comes from the inside out, and then the outsides just bounce off of each other in this world of cause and effect, but it all starts from the insides first and it starts with the human race because we have “free will,” we are the ones choosing to go beyond our means, we are the ones searching for something, unsatisfied with something, in this world.

We are the ones trying to find where to place all of our love, and the more we place it in the things of the world and become slaves to those things, that world, the more we find ourselves overwhelmed with problems — here in our heart and there in the world around us.

Personal sustainability first.

Inner freedom and balance first.

All else will follow, in this world of cause and effect. In this world of cause and effect, what is in the human heart is the seed for what is in the world around us all. The seed may seem small, but it grows into a big thing.

Let us plant Love & Balance & Contentment & Sustainability in our Hearts!

For more along these lines, check out this post on What it Means to be Green.

Image credit: noticelj via flickr under a Creative Commons license

  1. emmer

    yes, definitely sustainable self first. otherwise it is the pot calling the kettle black. but, many of the problems we need to solve need government help. being self sustainable won’t help mass transit improve, for example. there must be a political component to our personal actions.

  2. Steve Salmony

    If we can find ways to educate the opinion-makers and ‘talking heads’ in the mass media who are ‘educating’ us now, that could be a step forward in terms of successfully establishing behavior changes grounded in competence and improved reality-orientation.

    The family of humanity is only now starting to learn unexpectedly and painfully about certain human-induced global threats that could soon be presented to the human community by the seemingly endless growth of per human consumption and unbridled production activities increasing exponentially and overspreading the surface of Earth in our time.

    Let us the consider the way many too many economists, politicians and their super-rich benefactors who primarily govern the workings of the news media, report to us that Earth can indefinitely sustain people conspicuously consuming its limited resources the way millions of fortunate people worldwide are doing; but I fear these intelligent ‘dreamers’ have lost their reality-orientation with regard to human biological limits and the limitations of the bounded physical world we inhabit. The Earth is relatively small, evidently finite and noticeably frangible; it is neither an eternal provider like a mother’s teat nor is it an endlessly overflowing cornucopia. Unlimited expansion of the global economy without regard to limits to its growth that are inevitably imposed by a finite world is an end-all strategy, I suppose.

    A planet with the limitations and the make-up of Earth cannot realistically be expected to much longer maintain profligate over-consumption and adamantine hoarding of limited resources as well as seemingly endless expansion of production capabilities by millions of people, mostly in the overdeveloped world, that we see occurring as a result of actions by a tiny minority of selfish people who possess the wealth and power needed to behave in this ostentatious way.

    Obscene displays of consumption by self-seeking people with great wealth could be directly undermining the biophysical integrity of Earth as well as precipitating deleterious effects upon its environs. Please consider how scarce resources are being recklessly dissipated and global ecosystems relentlessly degraded at a much faster rate than the Earth can restore its resources and ecological services for human benefit. Unintended, pernicious challenges resulting from the unrestrained increase of per capita over-consumption of Earth’s finite resources and the unbridled growth of economic globalization appear to be threatening to ravage our planetary home.

    Perhaps the current scale as well the anticipated growth of per human over-consumption and the global economy could become unsustainable well before the year 2050.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001

  3. Steven Earl Salmony


    The idea “small is beautiful” is not a new notion; the adoption of such an idea leads to sustainable behavior. Surely the reasonable and sensible embrace of a “beautiful, low-consumption lifestyle” for the sake of a better life for a democratic majority of people; for the promotion of global biodiversity; for the protection of the environment; and for the preservation of Earth as a fit place for human habitation, could be one of the most powerfully sustainable and immediately effective behavioral changes the leaders of the family of humanity have made in a very long time.
    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001

  4. Charles Tutt

    While I like and enjoyed the content, I just wonder what this young man’s resume’ will look like when he really matures. I mean, where can he possibly go from here? He must have at least another 60 or 70 years ahead of him!

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