Posts tagged Sustainability
Why “reduce” is the most important “R” word.

We're all familiar with the three R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But it seems we've become much more accepting of the “Recycle” option. And granted, this allows us to maintain the same lifestyle as before, except we choose a different coloured waste bin. It's easy to justify purchasing single-use items such as water bottles and sandwich/freezer bags when I can say “I know these aren’t great for the environment but at least I’ll recycle it!”. This is not to say that recycling isn’t great we have saved tonnes of garbage from going to landfills by recycling and reusing the “waste”. Especially in the case of aluminum cans, recycling can be economically and environmentally sustainable.

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Are we all hypocrites?

Sustainability is often addressed as an environmental issue. Scratch the surface, however, and you will find that it is really an issue of human psychological thought, value systems, and decision-making. Psychology is at play in how people make decisions around living more or less sustainably, and more essentially, in how they define what ‘living sustainably’ means to them in the first place. If global sustainability is, at its core, really an issue of human psychology (insofar as we, as a global society, are able to take rational, consistent, and decisive actions to achieve a common goal), the sustainability movement faces at least one major issue: research has repeatedly shown that when it comes to decision-making and judgment, people are decidedly irrational, contradictory and inconsistent.

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How I learned to stop worrying and love complexity.

Think global, act local – but how can anybody really be sure that their local actions are helping the global condition when the international sphere shapes our very lives? A quick stroll around the kitchen with a sharp eye for labels will prove to just what extent we live globally, even if our frame of reference remains local. In 1998, complexity theorist and science philosopher Paul Ciliers stated that “the distinction between complex and simple often becomes a function of our ‘distance’ from the system” (p. 3). So while a pantry seems simple and innocuous enough, it becomes increasingly dizzying to “distance” yourself from its contents and consider the sheer scale of processes and systems involved. But rather than punish yourself for the carbon footprint of your kitchen, recalibrate your frame of reference and remember that sometimes your choices are the lesser of all possible evils the complex food system might produce.

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Bringing the Sustainable Community Together in Hamilton, Ontario

Hamilton, Ontario is full of great minds, especially on the Sustainability forefront. One bright Hamiltonian, Maria Topalovic, is using her expertise to further Hamilton’s environmental community with the launch of a new group: Hamilton Sustainability Professionals Network. Maria is an Environmental Coordinator at Holcim Inc. and serves on the Board of Directors for Hamilton Conservation Authority; along with the help of 10 other sustainability advocates she is launching the network on May 15th, 2013. http://hamiltonspnlaunch.eventbrite.ca

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The Happy Planet Index: A New Measure of Societal Well-Being?

After World War II, a nation that was efficient at producing goods emerged as a picture of prosperity and societal well-being. In many ways, this model shaped the lives of our ancestors and thus our own: the prospect of war, gruesome as it was, provided the economic opportunity for much of the industrialized world to rise above the misery of the Great Depression, and facilitated a greater quality of life for those willing to work towards it. In this way, economic value became increasingly equated with true value, and economic prosperity with true progress and well-being. Eventually, the Gross Domestic Product of a nation became our defining indicator of the past century.  But what do people truly want out of life?

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