Since the modern era we have been slowly destroying the ecosystem. There are simply too many homes that need heating, vehicles that need fuel, crops that need water and mouths that need feeding. With the Industrial Revolution roughly over 200 years behind us, we are just now finally understanding the importance of conservation, recycling and sustainability. We hope that it is not too late to reverse the effects of a careless environmental policy.
In fact, now that the progressive countries are becoming more aware of the fragility of our natural resources, many companies have jumped on the bandwagon and started promoting themselves and/or their products as “green”. But was does green actually mean?!?
Generally speaking, we define Sustainable Livin’ as the lowest impact type of..... anything! Buy what you need, return it to its’ origin and think about each choice you make independently. Every time you make a purchase, consider the resources used to make it, how it was made and what will become of it when you are done with it.
Someone once said that “trying to relieve traffic congestion by building more roads is like trying to lose weight by loosening your belt.”
With so many “green things” on the market these days, trying to use our conscience to separate us from our wallets, it is tough to know if you are doing the right thing all of the time.
It is actually so complicated, we have decided to try and bring some order to the chaos by dividing our universe into three major areas of Resources. Our universe, our planet, our country, our body... our entire existence actually, can be looked at as a combination of circumstance and resources.
The word resource comes from the French word that means to “rise again”. This pertains to the idea that a source or supply that can be helpful and even essential for existence. Something to which one has recourse in difficulties.
Sustainable Livin’ is based on three Resource Vortexes:
Natural, Living and Manmade
We have tried to bring some order to a very complicated balance of our existence as we know it by dividing Resources into threecategories:
1. Natural/Cosmos/Universal – Stars are the factories; made of hydrogen, they compress into helium which is heavier than hydrogen, so it sinks to centre of star, creating everything including all elements like carbon, iron, etc.. Closer to centre the heavier the element. Examples like neon, oxygen and iron lose energy as they fuse and cool off, leaving a solid core. Gravity takes over and makes it compress and makes it HOT. It compresses to a point that the temperature soars and it collapses, exploding into a super nova which releases even more elements from super-fused iron like heavy metals like lead, platinum and gold.
2. Living – Our hearts beat based on the energy originally given off from stars. Our cells are carbon based, as is every living organism on our planet.
3. Manmade/Inanimate – These are the things created that do not normally exist without a helping hand. Consider things like compounds and chemical formulas that are manipulated to create many of the products that we depend on like: steel, glass, plastics, gasoline, etc... Or even things like Teflon or Nylon.
4 Spheres: Atmosphere, Lithosphere, Biosphere, Hydrosphere these are the basic divisions of the nature that we see around us. The air, the ground, the living and the water are all represented.
Nuclear, gasoline, plastics, polymers and chemicals are all things that have been created by man. Although they can make our daily lives a lot easier, they also take their toll on the environment. As a result of their non-natural composition many of these products end up in landfills and decomposing at a snail’s pace. If not disposed of properly, they can even end up polluting our land, sea and air.
Plants, animals, humans. These three resources are all as dependent upon one another as they are on the natural resources. Plants are essential because they produce oxygen, food, medicine and useful materials that are used for shelter, building, clothing and tools. Humans have always used plants and animals for survival.
When looking at the many terms and labels (see Good Life Labels) that are used heavily in the market, we really wanted to make it more clear for ourselves by dividing them up into orderly groups.
Many products on the market are partially good for the environment even though they are far from perfect. Examples of eco-friendly products are things like detergents which don’t use chemicals or things like “green electricity”.
This is a more modern form of sustainability when compared to re-usable. Materials or products that can be (re)processed into its original or base form to be used over and over again. This can save a lot of raw materials, however it can also cost a lot of energy during the (re)processing to recycle. For this reason, it is a lot better to recycle than NOT recycle but it isn’t a perfect solution.
This is even better than recycled products because they can be re-used without expending any power to completely recycle. Think of products like the little bags made out of old candy wrappers, or furniture that comes from old wood, or even the great coliseum in Rome, which is partially built from stones collected from previous buildings.* The Netherlands features some of the leaders in re-usable materials like Piet Hein Eek & co, who have “creations” that are in great demand by collector’s and lover’s of natural and handmade furniture in place of the ubiquitous IKEA.
Multiple Use Products
If something exists in nature that can be used for more than one purpose it may be the “perfect resource”. Coconuts are a great example: You can use the juice to drink, the “meat” to eat, oil can be pressed from it, the shells can be used as containers and the husks can be used to bind and reinforce.
Earth didn’t get the name Mother for nothing! She gives us life and continues to nourish us until we die and return her energy. These are the best of all resources because they tend to maintain a natural balance and they come free of charge. Without them, life as we know it would cease to exist.
Solar, wind, natural gas, bio-fuels, wave & tidal energy, hydroelectric power
The economy has taken a turn for the worse but progressive people are still developing a number of vehicles that can be eco-friendlier. Cars, trains, scooters and bikes are becoming increasingly powered by electricity.
If a product can be brought to market without hurting the environment (balancing it’s carbon footprint), it can be considered sustainable.
Globally Responsible Programs
Organisations like Greenpeace, the IFW, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), etc., are all created to monitor and in some cases, actively correct imbalances in the ecosystem and natural world.
This is a term that has become increasingly popular over the last few years. With lots of discussion about the exploitation of workers in many of the developing countries, Western consumers have become more conscious of the workers who create many of the products that we can’t live without. As a result many companies are now trying to establish guidelines for fair trade that ensure the just treatment of employees and the communities where the factories are based.
This a Dutch initiative that is focused on the Fair Trade of coffee. By the early 1990’s many of the most popular brands of coffee manufactures were coming from countries and companies that used workers who were in many cases being exploited. They were being paid low wages, forced to work in unsafe environments or for unreasonable hours. The Max Havelaar foundation works with companies and communities to ensure that the entire chain of supply is based on honest and sustainable principles. In this way, Max Havelaar is sustainable in two ways: the ecosystem and the human resources are preserved and balanced.
Yes, if you are still reading now, you may be asking yourself “what are all of these about”? So let us begin explaining more on the following pages of this section.