“Teach your children what we have taught ours…. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” ~ Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe (1780~1866)
The idea of “sustainability” is nothing new. As early as 1727, it referred to a method of harvesting crops or using resources so that they would not be depleted or permanently damaged.
In his book “Walden,” published in 1854, Henry David Thoreau addressed the issue of sustainable living quite specifically.
His philosophy was one of living simply, simply living: “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”
In 1905, “sustained yield” became a hot topic. It referred to the production of biological resources, such as timber or fish, using management techniques that insured replacement of the parts harvested by regrowth or reproduction before another harvest would occur.
In the 1980s, the notion of “sustainable agriculture” became popular. It was soon followed by concepts of “sustainable development” and “sustainable societies.”
All of these forms of sustainability can be considered as aspects of “sustainable living.”
Lester R. Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and Earth Policy Institute, has described sustainable living in the 21stcentury as “shifting to a renewable energy-based, reuse/recycle economy with a diversified transport system.”
The challenge is to meet current ecological, societal and economical needs without compromising such factors for future generations.
In the United States, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency is very concerned with sustainability issues. Over the past 30 years, its focus has shifted from pollution control to pollution prevention, from regulating those who would abuse resources to promoting innovative green business practices.
Of course, the pursuit of sustainable living is not limited to efforts on a macro scale. Individuals can adjust their lifestyles to have a “lighter footprint” on the environment, too.
Toward this end, Canadian sustainability consultant and environmental educator Garnet McPherson launched Sustainable Living Magazine in 2008. It provides tools, information and expertise to help individuals achieve sustainable lifestyles, protecting the planet that has been borrowed from our children.
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