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The problems and suffering in the world today, and more drastic challenges that might be facing us in future (especially climate change) demand that we take action. This page covers two ways of doing it:

  • Activism, as a way to actively try to make a change on your community by influencing governments and other members of it.
  • Green living, as a change in lifestyle in order to acquire practices that try to avoid having a negative impact on the planet.

Green living is good and we recommend it. However, your actions as a single individual will have a much greater impact if they influence your community and society, and let society see an alternative that they find both achievable and attractive.

Activism[edit | edit source]

Civil disobedience works, at least in some societies at some times.[1] Community blockades, and other actions by groups such as Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd continue in this tradition of action.

The aim is to get attention for a cause, and sympathy from influential people. (The most important influential people are usually voters, but getting attention from media is one way of doing this.) Long concerted action is generally needed - governments generally do not change course because of one protest or one case of civil disobedience. (Climate Pledge of Resistance) points out that during the Great Depression, it was only massive pressure from citizens, often including civil disobedience, that allowed President Roosevelt to make changes that most Americans now take for granted.

I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.
— attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt, speaking to a group of reformers

Consumers have a lot of power if they get together and make mass campaigning:

  • Contact your energy company and tell them you would like to get only electricity from renewable wind-, solar-, hydro-, wave- power, and that they should stop using coal-power-plants.
  • Contact your local garbage collecting company and the local council and tell them about centralized composting projects (like the one in Gävle, Sweden[2]), they can collect food waste in separate bins and out of that create soil, and sell it back to consumers. The more we can sort out and put in different recycling schemes, the less amount of trash is ending up in landfills.

Green living[edit | edit source]

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Green living (or sustainable living) is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual's or society's use of the Earth's natural resources and his or her own resources.[3]

In practice, it deals about practical lifestyle choices, large and small, to live inline with the Earth's carrying capacities,W while maintaining (and sometimes improving) our quality of life. Besides lifestyle choices, the housing and appliances we use also has its impact on the environment (see Autonomous houses and neighbourhoods). This article only focuses on choices in lifestyle/habits. Sustainable city living then again discusses some of the areas of action specific to green living in an urban environment.

In order to make sustainable choices, it is very helpful to have solid, reliable information that tells us which behaviors are sustainable and which are unsustainable, and -more importantly-, which actions will make the greatest positive difference for us, and should be prioritized. Green living can be high tech (buying a hybrid vehicle), low tech (green cleaning), or completely "back to nature". It can be smart grid or off the grid.

Sustainable living in the 21st century can be described as "shifting to a renewable energy-based, reuse/recycle economy with a diversified transport system."
— Lester R. Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and Earth Policy Institute[4]

Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumptionW and diet.[5] Proponents of sustainable living aim to conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with sustainability, in natural balance and respectful of humanity's symbioticW relationship with the Earth's natural ecologyW and cycles.[6] The practice and general philosophy of ecological living is highly interrelated with the overall principles of sustainable development.

It can be very economical and also time-saving to live more green. For example most people will hesitate to purchase expensive low-energy-light-bulbs, like light emitting diodes (LED). All because they are more expensive to buy. But prove to them that these bulbs have a much longer lifetime and result in a lower electric bill, providing a small profit over a long time. Larger investments like insulating the walls of your house, or putting in 3-glaze-windows is also very expensive but can pay off. Doing the financial calculations on the different options can help you find the most economical and effective choices.[7]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. It seems less likely to work in a brutal non-democratic regime.
  2. Info about centralized composting in the city of Gävle, Sweden
  3. Ainoa, J., Kaskela, A., Lahti, L., Saarikoski, N., Sivunen, A., Storgårds, J., & Zhang, H. (2009). Future of Living. In Neuvo, Y., & Ylönen, S. (eds.), Bit Bang - Rays to the Future. Helsinki University of Technology (TKK), MIDE, Helsinki University Print, Helsinki, Finland, 174-204. ISBN 978-952-248-078-1.
  4. Ross, Greg. "An interview with Lester Brown" American Scientist.
  5. Winter, Mick (2007). Sustainable Living: For Home, Neighborhood and Community. Westsong Publishing. ISBN 0-9659-0005-3.
  6. The Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL)–philosophy
  7. Technology jumps
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Keywords climate change gallery, deforestation gallery, environmental degradation gallery, whaling gallery
Authors Chris Watkins
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Translations Thai
Related 1 subpages, 16 pages link here
Aliases Actions, Organizing for appropriate living, Take action
Impact 1,271 page views
Created November 23, 2009 by Chris Watkins
Modified June 9, 2023 by Felipe Schenone
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