When mega corporations talk about sustainability, they often talk only about one aspect of change that they have made and hence they are now sustainable.
For example, if a major beverage company utilizes 1 million litres of water in a month for its manufacturing and then figures out an engineering method to reduce it from 1 million to 999 thousand or even to 950 thousand, does it become sustainable? By reducing 0.1% or even 0.5% has it really made a positive difference to the world?
Some would argue yes, its saving that much water for other living beings down the chain to utilize it, but in actuality, the said company is depriving other living beings of 950 thousand litres of water. Its still transporting all of that water, which is that regions resource and transporting it hundreds and sometimes thousands of kilometers to consumers, having burnt tons of fossil fuel. So this 0.5% saving company is better than its competitor who hasn't yet started saving on water, and by that logic its more sustainable in comparison, but honestly its still damaging the resources by 99.5%.
So in actuality, none of those 2 said companies are sustainable. Sustainability or Sustainable has been heavily abused since the multinational corporations learnt what the word means. They have applied it to just about anything that they regard better over their earlier methodology.
That brings us back to the question, what is sustainable consumption then?
Well, consuming local produce so that the nutrients return back to where they originally belong so that the cycle of life is complete is in-fact sustainability. Products that do not change the topography of the planet, products that maintain balance, and products that profit the mother nature and not just humans are to be regarded as Sustainable products.
Yes its an ideal case scenario and it might be very difficult to achieve it, but what if we started making micro changes every day in the way we live to try and achieve the final goal. What if, we consume consciously, and cater to our needs and not wants, wouldn't it become easier to live in harmony with nature.
If I were to answer this blogs title, then buying consciously and buying only what is needed would be sustainable. But buying anything branded as sustainable when a local alternative exists, isn't.
Here are a few easy steps through which would could start living sustainably:
Shop Local, the lesser kilometers on your food the fresher and less polluting it is
Purchase out of absolute necessity, reuse what you already have
Travel less, reducing your travel and using public transport for when its required reduces the consumption of fossil fuel
Packages need to end, if you buy less and that too local, it doesn't need to be packaged at all. The sole purpose of packaging was to protect and increase the shelf life of products
Think about product's end of life, whether the product becomes food to the planet or poison, let that become your criterion of purchase
Enrich your surrounding, by protecting and positively impacting the spaces near you. Stop cutting trees, let more of soil be visible rather than concretizing the top soil. Plant trees that return you with food
Compost, supporting point 5, its imperative that we protect the nutrients and do not poison them by mixing them with toxic waste materials
Segregate your waste, well if you are consuming consciously then this point really doesn't matter, but it does when we know how imperfect we are
Find alternatives to plastic products in our lives, be it spatula's or clothings, be mindful that this material doesn't decompose. Even though there would be some reports suggesting that there are bacteria's that do, but we yet do not know what harm those bacteria's will cause us when they grown in number as equal to the amount of plastic there is in this world
Last, but wouldn't emphasize enough, resort to simple lifestyles, our lives aren't a race, we aren't on a mission to accomplish something, our life is a gift only if we treat it as one