Invest in Life


I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, but I’ll share how I live mine and why.  Polls consistently show that 85% of us understand we need to stop sacrificing the needs of our environment to the greed of our economy.  Unfortunately, we are encouraged to do mainly trivial things, like recycling and changing our light bulbs.  Those are wise steps, but collectively they don’t add up to much.  We need to look at straightforward things we can personally do that make a real difference.  Instead of trying to create an exhaustive list of thousands of tiny steps, I focus on a handful that are genuinely significant.  When we decide to improve tomorrow rather than squandering it, there's only a few lifestyle changes that make all the difference.

Buy Fewer Nonessentials

Most of our retail purchases are completely unimportant to the goal of living sustainably, or indeed happily. We can't eat status symbols, and research proves it isn't our possessions that genuinely bring us joy. We need to live within our means, not only in terms of credit card debt but also in resource availability, and that requires taking a hard look at things.  The best way to shop green isn't to buy greener products, it's to buy fewer ones.

Think Local

Support your local economy, frequent local craftspeople, eat local food, and get to know your neighbours. It won't only reduce the emissions we create with long distance shipping. It also grows more skills, resources, and opportunities close to you, improving the available quality of life where you live.

Eat Lower On The Food Chain

In 1965, there were 3.3 billion humans on the planet and they ate 10 billion livestock. In 2011 the 7 billionth human being was born, but we now slaughter more than 56 billion livestock annually, so that's the real population bomb. Livestock grazing already uses one quarter of the ice free terrestrial surface of the planet, and India and China now want to eat meat like we do. Not to mention that lower impact diets also mean significant health gains.

Go Low Tech

High tech solutions use complex and rare materials, commonly have unexpected side effects, and are expensive. High tech gets replaced, while low tech can be repaired, with fewer parts to go wrong. Security and confidence comes from knowing that in a pinch you might be able to fix something yourself.

Don't Fly

For the average North American, one year of driving creates 2.2 tons of emissions, and one year of eating represents 3 tons. One return airfare from Toronto to Rome can be 5.5 tons, the largest spike in emissions many of us aspire to. Road trips are greener, and the train more so. Better still, Spend those dollars greening your home, which is where you'll spend most of your time, and it will pay you back.

Give Up Your Car

Telecommute, use public transit, walk, bicycle. Bicycles are the most efficient transportation ever invented, and we could clearly use the exercise. Many cities now have car share programs you can join, so that if you have to move something heavy across town you can get wheels for the day without the ongoing expense, maintenance, temptation, and danger that car represents in your driveway.

We'd need six planets to provide the world a North American lifestyle, and there is perpetual pressure to keep the economy growing indefinitely, but ecology is the true wealth of our planet. Today’s children have a shorter life expectancy than their parents for the first time in many centuries.

I've not only slashed my budget and my carbon footprint, I'm healthier, more relaxed, and having more fun in doing it. The shift to sustainability is inevitable. We will either do it voluntarily, which is difficult and inconvenient, or collapsing resources and environmental degradation are going to do it for us. When you make sustainable choices, be proud.

Tell your friends. If we genuinely want to make tomorrow a better place, that's how we are going to do it.  Nothing else that any of us want to do is going to matter unless we mobilize to quickly address the environmental issues now threatening our very civilization and the political and economic factors driving them. If you are paying attention to the world around you, it is time to act. Don't wait for business or government or anyone else to show leadership - it is a moral imperative for each of us as individuals. Humanity is winning the war on nature, which means we will all lose. Pick a side and don't stand on the sidelines. Be the change.

Please ask questions.