Sustainable Living Project at Oregon State University
Oregon State University’s Sustainable Living Project website is packed with information on the whats, whys and hows of living an environmentally responsible life. The selection below is from their page on the concept of sustainability. The site is packed with useful and practical research-based information.
What is Sustainable Living?
Our definition is “A life that is deeply satisfying, fulfilling, and appealing – and at the same time, environmentally responsible.”
To understand what sustainable living is, it helps to understand what it’s not.
First of all, it’s not about living in the woods, eating nuts and berries, and wearing tie-dyed clothes. It’s for mainstream adults – typical Americans with two cars in their garage, one of which might be a sport utility vehicle. It’s for people who ski, watch TV, hike, read, snowmobile, go to movies, rollerblade, play video games, bowl, and camp. For people with mortgages and those who drop their kids off at child care. It’s for people with credit cards and those who shop at malls. And for people who regularly drive up to fast food windows.
Second, sustainable living is not about never buying anything again. It is about making thoughtful decisions, considering the impacts of our consumer choices, and finding alternatives.
Third, sustainable living is not competitive. Individuals have different needs and values. Sustainable living is deeply personal, based on individual definitions of quality of life. For example, this quote might express your sentiments exactly – or it might not.
Fourth, sustainable living is not guilt-driven. It focuses not on what was done in the past but on what will be done in the future. It combines practical ideas – such as turning off lights – with intangibles such as lifestyle values and personal quality of life.
And finally, sustainable living is not “gloom and doom.” It does, however, put our individual actions into a global context. While it’s about taking positive steps at the individual and family level, the world we live in is an important consideration. Wackernagel and Rees, in Our Ecological Footprint, state, “It would require four Earths for everybody on the planet to live the lifestyle of North Americans.”