Thinking about sustainable development
This website is dedicated to learning about how to live a more sustainable life; about finding a path to sustainable development.
The name, A Life of Contradictions, is how I live, trying to do minimise my impact but acknowledging that it’s really complex to make the right decisions and find the right path. The decision making necessary to ensure sustainable development contains so many variables we sometimes (or often) encounter contradictions and make mistakes. For example, I sometimes fail to go to the organic supermarket or bulk food store because I’m too lazy or short on time so I end up at the supermarket, where I try to make the best decisions I can on such things as buying low packaging, plastic free, sans palm oil and local. I might buy something and then subsequently realise I’ve done the wrong thing, unintentionally, but still with adverse consequences. I would like to buy more second hand clothes but I don’t like shopping and so I find it difficult to sift through all the paraphernalia in the op shops. You might recognise some of these types of decisions in your life.
The changes I’ve made to my life have been incremental as I’ve learned about the issues facing us as a global society living on a planet with finite resources. I’ll try to share some of that with you on this site. If you would like to know more about where the world is at in terms of action to become more sustainable, you might be interested in the Sustainable Development News.
My decision to focus on sustainable development over the more commonly used term, sustainability, is deliberate because the ‘development’ component is incredibly important. A widely used definition of sustainable development is “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Our Common Future or the Brundtland Report, 1987). Development means we need to keep growing and innovating, which might still mean growing the economy, but not in the traditional way where the focus is on more and more consumption to generate growth. Some principles I identify with are a true circular economy and factoring in externalities as financial costs and benefits when making decisions.
We don’t need to go back to the dark ages in order to live sustainably but it is obvious that we can’t carry on with wasteful consumption of the finite resources of our one planet. With more than 7 billion people we no longer have enough resources to keep everyone in the style they are (or would like to become) accustomed to. It is clear to me that we must be a lot more thoughtful about how we use the limited resources we do have. Exactly the best way to do that though is not fully understood, by me or by anyone, which is why I’d like to explore options and come to some conclusions about what path I, we, you, the world, should be taking. I’m coming to the conclusion that the key to this is to eliminate waste and pollution, and the concept of waste.
Every time I buy something I think carefully about how it is made, what resources are used, where is it made, how far has the various components and eventually the complete object travelled, and how will it be disposed of. That’s a lot to think about and along the way I make mistakes. This site will explore the extraordinary amount of information that’s out there and look at how to make better choices about how we purchase goods and services.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey. It will be full of adventure, learning, philosophy, dead-ends, hopefully be inspiring and helpful, and I’m sure there will be a few contradictions along the way.