This first chapter of the Appropriate Living Manual details the basics of appropriate living. The introduction, shaped as an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) provides fast, clear insights into all aspects of appropriate living. What is appropriate living? Appropriate living means living in a way that shows special consideration for the environmental, ethical, cultural, social, and economic impacts one makes on one's community.
Who lives appropriately today? To answer this question, we can extrapolate from the national information available on ecologic footprints, Gini coefficients, sweet water transportation footprints, and cultural indexes. When we analyze the combined data, we see that not a single country attains a score that falls into the margins of appropriate living. The margins of appropriate living are distinguished by zero percent greenhouse gas emissions and an average score on the remaining indexes. However, we see that some population groups have the right mental orientation, with examples such as the concept of Ahimsa or Brahmacharya, but that do not yet succeed fully in their practical execution.
How can we live appropriately? Using a simple list, we can drastically change the technologies we commonly use in our daily lives. This includes changes in food production, heating and cooling, transportation, etc. The list and measures are discussed in detail in Chapter 2.
Why does it matter? The simple answer is that any lifestyle that does not take into account its environmental, ethical, cultural, social, and economic impacts creates problems for other people and for the fauna, flora, and ecosystem services we depend on for our survival. More precisely, global warming alone has killed over 150,000 people (2000 estimate). Factoring in fatalities caused by pollution, the killing of many fauna and flora species (which often results in their extinction), and other problems such as resource theft or depletion, we can easily state that by living a nonappropriate lifestyle, whenever we buy and use certain products, we consume excessively high amounts of resources and thus contribute to the killing. As no one wants to be or become such a person, it is clear that we must change our habits immediately, with or without government help.
What will it cost us financially? Nothing. Instead, when carefully put together, the changes you introduce will actually gain you financial profits and/or reduce your daily amount of work. Some of us will benefit by changing our job or profession to something we find more exciting or meaningful.
Can we have a paying job providing goods and services that allow others to live appropriately? Making a profession out of helping others to live an appropriate lifestyle is indeed a possibility. However, one must first possess the requisite knowledge, skills, experience and other qualifications needed to become an effective service provider or product supplier. At present there are few opportunities to learn about sustainable construction available in traditional schools, so we must assume that many of those wanting to carve a profession out of supplying specialty services or products will themselves lack substantial amounts of critical knowledge. Appropedia compiles open knowledge resources, including a list of courses given in different subjects, which could be taught at the (existing or proposed) appropriate technology villages. Depending on the profession, setting up a shop would also be possible through these AT villages. Another possible option is to immerse oneself in volunteer work to gain experience in a desired profession. See chapter 5 for more information.