When most people see or hear the word “sustainability”, they tend to think about only renewable fuel sources, carbon emissions, environmental protection, etc., without thinking about how each person could sustain their own life and environment.
Sustainability can protect the natural environment and human and ecological health without compromising our way of life. We can use its principles to enhance our emotional well-being, employ our talents to full effect, and continuously generate joy, contentment, fulfillment, income, etc.
From the perspective of environmental science, sustainability focuses on meeting the demands of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own demands.
A good example that illustrates the ill effects of unsustainable living, among many others, is the discharge of highly concentrated and polluted wastewater (by pharmaceutical companies) into nearby rivers that are often being used by the people who live in the vicinity of the river.
Probably, the intention of such companies is to avoid the short term costs of properly disposing wastewater into different—but distant—bodies of water that are not being used by people. Some types of discharges that avoid spending—especially when done consistently—lead to cases of water-borne diseases and other problems that cause significant long term environmental damage and affect the lives of people who consume polluted water.
Sustainable nations & sustainable people
One outstanding quality that environmentally sustainable nations have is the ability to effectively conserve their natural resources and survive pretty well on income generated from their resources—which can be divided into renewable and non-renewable (you can read about renewable and non-renewable resources here). In summary, sustainable nations use their resources in ways that preserve/conserve them (the resources) for an indefinite period of time.
Like any sustainable nation, sustainability should be the major goal for anyone who is interested in meeting personal current and future resource needs and generating income for survival without compromising their own ability to meet their future needs. This should be the goal of all individuals, regardless of their respective professions or levels of education.
Our time and talent are renewable resources like solar energy. Resources can be either used sustainably or unsustainably; for example: imagine a. man using his talent (natural income) to earn £500,000 over a period of time. Next, he takes part of his money and invests in a profitable business that earns him 20% interest per year; implying that he generates a sustainable income of £100,000 per year, which he could survive on, indefinitely.
Note that he still has £400,000 fixed income alongside any leftover if he does not withdraw more than the £100,000 interest generated each year. These actions and similar ones depict the lifestyle of someone who lives sustainably.
On the other hand, if we consider a scenario that is the direct opposite of the sustainable one illustrated above—instead of living sustainably—the individual would live unsustainably after acquiring £500,000.
It would be unfortunate to see an individual inherit £500,000 without investing their time and talent, then proceed to spend £ 100,000 each year without investing anything. More unfortunate it is to see people not use their natural talent (e.g., singing, acting, dancing, writing, etc.) to generate any income.
In this type of situation, the initial capital (£500,000 which was inherited) would disappear after 5 years—if the person spends at a rate of £100,000 per year without investing neither income nor talent. The bottom line is that spending £100,000 per year without using time and talent (to wisely invest part of the inherited money [£500,000]), would definitely lead to bankruptcy after 5 years.
The thing is this: you can’t compare the sustainability of someone who lives on their income without investing their time/talent (natural capital) with the sustainability of someone else who efficiently uses their time/talent on a consistent basis and invests their capital in ways that generate consistent returns of income and trust. People who consistently invest their time and talent will definitely reap much more than those who don’t use their time/talent (natural capital) consistently, or don’t invest their income at all.
The lesson for everybody is an old one: protect your capital (time/talent), and live on the income your time and talent generate. If you deplete or waste your capital (time/talent), and don’t invest any available income—if there are any—then you’d likely live an unsustainable lifestyle which can make you become doomed.
On the other hand, if you invest your time and talent and look for profitable ways to invest any capital you generate from your time/talent, you would likely live sustainably and make more profit. The logic behind advocating for and living this way can be applied to how we use of the Earth’s natural capital includes the natural resources that Mother Nature has provided for mankind and other living and non-living things. If the earth’s natural capital is properly conserved and used to generate income, then human and animal populations will have adequate natural resources and income for the foreseeable future.
The bad news is that many people are living unsustainably by wasting, depleting, and degrading their natural capital (talent and time) at an accelerating rate. Their inactivity has been known to hamper their self development and put a strain not only on themselves but on their country’s leaders and the economy as well.
The good news is that we have the power and ability to put a halt to procrastination and make proper use of our talents/times in order to generate income and conserve our talent along with our emotional and mental health/well-being.
How to live sustainably by effectively using your natural human resources (talent & time)
- get to work, either for yourself or for someone else. No matter the situation you find yourself in, remember that you have some talent, and there’s something you’re definitely good at. Find it and start doing it by starting from somewhere.
- use your energy, time, and talent (which I call “renewable human resources”) efficiently and wisely enough to generate the type of income you can live on, indefinitely.
- minimize the amount of time you waste on things that don’t bring much profit on a long-term basis.
- re-use your talent in many other areas of life that are related to your main area of interest.
- renew your talent by being studious and looking for information relevant to your area of interest.
- limit negativity, and protect, maintain, or enhance your abilities by reading and meditating on informative and positive literature/information; do this repeatedly and you will become habitually positive.
- always visit/stay in places and around people who make you feel good and be at your best.
- protect your health, eat good food, clean up your environment regularly, and use the least amount of non-renewable resources as you possibly can.
- list and strive to achieve more goals that have regard/respect for the natural environment and human and animal life, and use technology in ways that can conserve resources and protect the environment.
- respect or place high values on all forms of life.