Maximillian Amadeus Banzai (banzai) wrote,
Maximillian Amadeus Banzai

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Sustainable sustainability?

barlow_girl and I may, by some measures, be on the way toward card-carrying membership in the granola club. We get fruits and vegetables from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), are careful to recycle and compost (yes, this means actually sorting stuff), often choose organic foods, have replaced some lightbulbs with CFLs (not too many, because they're still pretty awful), and so on. Most of what we do is in the territory of personal responsibility rather than activism, and that matches who we are pretty well.

All that said, I doubt anyone will be issuing us our membership cards anytime soon. For me, there's still the looming question of how sustainable "sustainability" really is. I'm no scientist, and honestly, I'm not going to be spending much of my time researching it, but here's my question/problem: What sustainable practices can realistically support the current and future human populations of the planet? Certainly there are brilliant minds dealing with that very question; here in the layman's seat, I'm just not sure I see it happening with what's regularly billed as "sustainable." Particularly with food, can mini-farms with back-to-basics practices really feed the world?

In my ignorance, I'm afraid much of the current interest in sustainability looks like Bobos Gone Wild—it's an exercise in privilege. Though it looks like concern for the good of the planet and everyone on it, the truth may be that only those who are rich can enjoy the fruits (pun intended) of the efforts—if everyone can't be fed this way, then what are we really doing? It's just wealth in earthier packaging, which coincidentally doesn't make us feel as guilty, either.

Much of what masquerades as "green" is just as rooted in a consumer mentality as Cheetos and Wal-Mart. Making these choices is a capability rooted in luxury. Doesn't make it wrong or bad so much as it's something we should own rather than claiming a moral high ground that's shaky at best. We only care about sustainability inasmuch as we're willing to accept those practices that can keep our neighbors who can't afford Whole Foods fed, whether said practices match our privileged pictures of an ideal world or not. Anything else isn't sustainability at all; it's just another game of haves and have nots.
Tags: bobos, culture, environment, observations
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