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No bullshit

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.

Comments

I've tried to type out a response 4 different times, and each time I've gone back and erased what I typed.

I identify with what you've said.

That is all.
If you'd been writing on paper, think of all the trees!
EXACTLY!!!!
Agreed wholeheartedly.

At least you haven't bought the Green Bible yet, have you. ;)

http://greenletterbible.com/
So creepy.
I saw someone talking about a book recently, so I went and checked Amazon for it to see what it was all about. I found this review on it that pretty much sums up (in length!) how I feel about .... all this stuff.

(I can't always sound intelligent. I napped. This is the best I can do.)

http://www.amazon.com/review/RDPNNQHMICT1B/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?_encoding=UTF8&ASIN=0143038583&nodeID=#wasThisHelpful
Yeah, it's certainly worth thinking about from a personal responsibility standpoint, but at some point (and hopefully at regular intervals), we have to ask, "Can this work for everyone?" If it just makes us feel better (even in healthy ways), we should go ahead and admit that. There's nothing wrong with feeling better as long as we're not making it into a new morality.
I suppose we could all implement *something* into our lives, but I don't see it working as a system that would sustain us all.
Right—the lofty thought of "caring for the world" through more natural living often fails the litmus test of "If we all do this, will there be enough?" If the answer is no (and I'm thinking it usually is), then we might be doing a lot of things, but "caring for the world" isn't really shaping our agenda, and that should just be admitted outright so that no one is tempted to hop onto a moral high horse that isn't there.
and anyway, if i was going to get on a horse, it would be a low horse. less flailing on the way down.
Welcome aboard! I'm kind of sporadic and spazzy of late, but I'm glad this was helpful to someone other than me.

agreed

it does seem a little scary when all of pop culture (including hollywood) begins to endorse a movement. buying green seems to be an unsustainable alternative to not buying. i've actually been thinking quite a bit about this stuff this week since i watched this video.

http://www.storyofstuff.com/

i think it's worth watching. the first 10 minutes are a little insulting but overall the "golden arrow" presented for the second 10 minutes got me thinking about this very issue.

Re: agreed

I've been wanting to watch that for a while! Good to get another recommendation so it doesn't slide (farther) off the radar.

Sorry coffee today didn't work; hope the connection with the good doctor was beneficial.