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How to Create a Sustainable Lifestyle:
Three Essential Steps for Sustainable Living
The Golden Rule
Creating a sustainable lifestyle takes a lifelong commitment – to learning, experimenting, exploring, committing to increasingly sustainable practices and, above all, loving. Because beyond all of the frightening news; beyond the frustrating politics; beyond the failed international agreements, there is one question – how do you want to live your life? With fear – or with love? The fear route feels defeated and helpless and frustrating. The love route, on the other hand, feels grounded, purposeful and hopeful.
At its essence, it is the route of living by the Golden Rule, a central tenet across all major religions:
In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
~ Christianity (Matthew 1452)
What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary.
~ Judaism (Moses 6)
Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves.
~ Islam (Moses 6)
Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.
~ Buddhism (Moses 7)
Tzu-Kung asked: “Is there one principle upon which one’s whole life may proceed?” the Master replied, “Is not Reciprocity such a principle? – what you do not yourself desire, do not put before others.”
~ Confucianism (Moses 7)
This is the sum of all true righteousness – Treat others, as though wouldst thyself be treated. Do nothing to they neighbor, which hereafter thou wouldst not have they neighbor do to thee.
~ Hinduism (Moses 7)
It is such a simple principle – and yet if it is extended to include all living beings (an essential component of sustainability), it requires a complete shift in how we live our lives. Because we do unto others all day long – through the clothes we buy, the energy we use, the food we eat, even the toothpaste we brush our teeth with. Every choice we make impacts others – through its creation, its distribution, its use and its disposal. And most likely we’ll never know – or even see – who we are impacting. But they are out there, nonetheless, suffering – or thriving – based on our choices.
Because we live in such a global, profit-at-all-costs world, the number impacted is astounding – hard to grasp really. One detailed life cycle analysis of aluminum cans, for example, documents the steps required to manufacture, sell and dispose of an aluminum can and the resulting impacts:
- Extraction: bauxite ore, the primary raw material source for aluminum production, is extracted from open pit mines primarily in Brazil, Guinea, Jamaica, Guyana and Australia.
- Transportation: bauxite is shipped to multiple countries to complete processing.
- Processing: processing bauxite ore into aluminum cans requires several energy-intensive steps including alumina refining, smelting, ingot casting, can sheet fabrication, can making and can‐filling. Recycled aluminum is also incorporated into the final product, the processing of which has its own (reduced) impacts (the recycled content of a beverage can in the U.S. in 2007 was 67.8%).
- Packaging and Distribution: aluminum cans are packaged and transported to individual stores and from there to homes and businesses.
- End of Life: While some cans are transported to recycling centers and re-processed (about half in the U.S.), far too many still end up in landfills.
At every stage in the life cycle of this product, humans and other animals and plants are negatively impacted – through destruction of habitat; exposure to land, air and water pollutants and, for humans, potentially low wages and unsafe working conditions.
In all, the production of an aluminum can requires over 60 different types of raw or processed materials and creates over 75 different types of pollutants. The material inputs and manufacturing equipment also have their own life cycle impacts.
Manufacturing an aluminum can causes increased global warming, acidification, eutrophication, low level smog, and ozone layer depletion.
Story of Stuff author, Annie Leonard adds:
[“A single-use, single-serving aluminum can”] is one of the most energy-intensive, CO2-producing, waste-generating products on the planet. . .Aluminum smelting requires more energy than any other metal processing on earth. . .[and produces] perfluorocarbons (PFCs) – these are the most noxious of greenhouse gases, trapping thousands of times more heat than carbon dioxide. . .It’s estimated that more than a trillion aluminum cans have been trashed in landfills since 1972.” (Leonard 64-67)
And that’s just an aluminum can.
So choosing a life of love requires a lot of work – a lot of rethinking – a lot of soul searching. The question we have to answer in every choice we make is: how loving do we really want to be? And how inclusive do we want to be in our love? Living, of course, involves impacting others – all of life impacts others. But is our impact unnecessarily harmful – or is it based on a conscious choice which minimizes harm done and maximizes benefits?
Looking back at the Golden Rule, we all want our homes protected, our neighborhoods unpolluted, a plentiful supply of safe drinking water and food – and knowing that our future is secure. And we want others to make choices that ensure we have these things. The loving approach to life, then, is to offer that same level of care back to others.
Read more at :http://www.globalstewards.org/sustainable-lifestyle.htm
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