Living sustainably is a little bit like going on a diet.

Diets can get a bit of a bad rap, but I’m not sold on writing them off entirely. If we’re overindulging it seems to be an obvious step to reduce some of that indulgence.

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Photo by I yunmai on Unsplash

While supermarket shelves are overstocked with all sorts of food type products, we have to exercise more self-control than would be necessary in a natural state. When it comes to food it’s not so much that we need to eat less food, it’s that we need to eat a normal, appropriate amount and simply deny ourselves the things that are not actually food, just empty calories. It is the Capitalist driven entities that needs to stop greedily selling us things that have no place in a natural, balanced system.

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Photo by Ola Mishchenko on Unsplash

The real problem here is not you or me, it is the activity of an industrial system which aims simply to make money with no other agenda. This is unbalanced.

In this sense then, adopting a sustainable lifestyle of less deleterious activity is just the same as adopting an eating pattern of less processed food substitutes full of nutritionless calories.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Transposing this diet analogy to an overall lifestyle, the changes that would need adopting in order to bring our lifestyles back within a state of balance would be to relocalise our lives, adopting natural exercise that is not conducted in airconditioned rooms and eschewing the assumed entitlements that have come to define the lives of well-off Westerners (here’s a list: fossil fueled aircon, heating, travel (including air – which is one of the most destructive forms of travel), food from afar, packaged food, food processed in factories – many steps from its original form, clothes from afar produced in sweatshops, plastic in all its forms – fabric, boxes, thread, duvets, shelves, shoes, cups, toys, toys, toys, bags, instruments, disposable plates, paint and so on and on).

The sustainable ‘diet’ recognises the problem as being one of the systems that the modern world is founded on, it sees the future earth as one which is expanding beyond a place that is healthy, and the only and most sensible course of action is one of individual, corporate and national self denial.

This goes against everything that the modern mindset has programmed in the modern person. This programming has happened through commercials, advertising, marketing and the competitiveness encouraged by a market-driven society. The modern person is told to seek their own pleasure, their own benefit, their own well-being without looking at how their individual actions affect the world at large, their communities and the lives of those who are yet to come on this earth.

Astute individuals will realise that if all of us continued to live in this way then we will soon eat up and pollute and poison our planet, our only home, leaving absolutely nothing for anyone else both now and into the future.

Climate change optimists like to hope that technology will deliver us out of this, but deliver us out of what? Out of a mindset that is clearly poisonous? No, they hope that technology will allow us to cling onto this toxic, self-first, way of life, giving us leave to continue living callously, disregarding our planet and other persons, as we seek our own benefit above all in an extension of capitalist thinking.

But this is like being unwilling to get up off the couch and stop eating fries, hoping that technology will come along that allows us to stay on the couch, continue eating fries and still maintain a state of health – somehow – almost miraculously.

So, there is no other option. Collectively humanity has to ‘lose some weight’, some industrial weight, some weighty privilege, some inefficient and ineffective modes of living that are actually leaving people sadder and more disconnected than ever, more unhealthy and prone to addiction than ever and wasting the world as fast as has never been anticipated.

It’s a problem needing fixing and the only way to fix it is to change a global mindset individual by individual.

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