Since 1992, the world has had an initiative, to make the human impact on our beautiful planet more sustainable. The United Nations initiative, called the Kyoto Protocol Agreement is a treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Now, whether or not you subscribe to the notion that global warming is occurring and regardless of whether or not you believe that human-made CO₂ emissions have predominantly caused it. The term “eco” has clear connotations and implications when we consider the way we live today.
Here in the UK, everyone is familiar with the green bin, noted not only for its colour. Over the last decade the green-bin has become an icon for local authority recycling programmes, now commonplace the length and breadth of the country.
In 2003, former mayor of London Ken Livingston introduced what is known as the congestion charge. While, more recently, in 2015, the UK government took another step further and introduced a 5p tax on the use of plastic carrier bags, in England.
Our lives will inevitably become more sustainable
Furthermore, the expectation is that by 2050 the UK will be carbon-neutral. What that means and how that changes how we live is not abundantly clear. The fact is there remains some debate as to whether climate change is even a thing or of our making.
However, it is of little importance whether or not you agree or disagree with the premise that climate change is a thing. For me, the question is more fundamental. Do we want our living environment to be dirty and full of waste or clean and healthy?
If like me you don’t aspire to live like Oscar from Sesame Street, you probably have access to a vacuum cleaner and throw your rubbish in a dedicated receptacle. What this highlights is that we are happy to embrace technological advancement, in the interests of a clean home.
This march towards a cleaner more hygienic society has seen bedpans replaced with flushing toilets and landfills replaced by recycling plants. Of course, there is still much to be done. Just ask Greta and many of her peers, if you are in any doubt.
Forget nostalgia for passed “normals”
Interestingly, there seems to be a reluctance to move away from the old, outdated ways and to embrace the new. Human reticence is a wondrous thing. We so-easily become addicted to what is bad for us. We cling onto them because of convenience and complacency rather than for any real tangible reason.
However, what 2020 has taught me is that individuals and governments can quickly make significant changes to the way we live. All we need is to believe that we can avoid an untimely death by acting differently. The fact of the matter is that we could phase out fossil-fueled vehicles long before 2030. We don’t need to wait to ban single-use plastics. We could also mandate that all new homes are energy-efficient, sustainable, and meet a carbon-zero standard if the collective will existed.
OK, the transition would require significant commercial upheaval. But as the global pandemic has shown, like any hospitality business, salon, airline and many other businesses will tell you; commercial interests come second-place to the perceived common good.
In answer the question: does sustainable living make more sense, the answer has to be a resounding yes. However, to avoid mass stress, angst and upheaval, we need to be agile and ready to embrace change and new technologies. More importantly, human development must put health and wellbeing ahead of expense or profits. Failure to do so will inevitably mean a future filled with calamity and uncomfortable transitions.
So, if you are hesitant or reluctant to make changes to your life today. If you’re nostalgic for the “norm” of pre-2020, remember the Greek word for “return” is nostos and algos means “suffering.