Environmental and social sustainability are complicated concepts that affect every living thing. There are lots of competing interests and we still have a lot to learn. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to understand what’s going on and take a stand. Actions have consequences. As does inaction.
Question everything. Don’t be blindsided by simplistic solutions that sidestep key issues or ignore the big picture. Is someone creating panic or making you feel guilty? Are they trying to sell something or push a particular ideology? Ask who is behind each campaign and check out their motives and credentials.
Follow the money and look for the science backing it up. Are GMOs really the enemy or is someone just wanting to market their organic products? Is it realistic to think that we could feed the world’s population without intensive agriculture? Is FairTrade always the most ethical and socially responsible option? And why are parabens and other chemicals so bad in shampoos? Arsenic is natural – but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Choose what you worry about. Is it possible that you’re being manipulated or misled? Are things like disposable coffee cups your top priority or are they distracting you from causing a fuss about more strategic or urgent sustainability challenges? Who can you trust when you don’t have the time or inclination to do your own research?
I don’t have all the answers. Don’t believe anyone who says they do. Each of us can only provide another part of the puzzle. Decide to play the long game. Learn constantly and be open to new ideas. Apply, test and share what you find out. It won’t happen overnight, but together we can make a difference.
I have over 20 years professional experience working in government agencies and as a consultant in the fields of energy and water efficiency, waste management, environmental management, natural disaster reduction and emergency management.
My educational qualifications include a Master of Environmental Law at the Australian National University and an Honours degree in Planning and Design from the University of Melbourne (with majors in Urban & Regional Planning & Design, Natural Resources, and Landscape Architecture).
I’ve been a member of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand since 1994.
My posts represent my own point of view and are not endorsed by any past or present employer or client.
All posts are copyright Pip Marks (unless otherwise attributed). If you wish to repost any content, please attribute it correctly and include a link to the original source.
Images credited to Pip Marks are available under the CC – Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License.
[Page updated 7 Feb 2016.]