Why I choose sustainability over, uh…Ignorance

I was born into a family that likes to recognise itself as upper middle class. An upper middle-class household is one where there is enough and not enough at the same time! My parents brought me up in abundance; however, there was always an adjoining lesson of the ‘value of money’ with everything that was endowed upon me.

There was never a shortage of anything but I was told that when I grow up I should achieve more! Success had a very limiting meaning. Everyone seemed to attribute a bigger house, fancier car and, a fatter salary to success. What interested me and my like were malls, brands, air conditioning and western TV. No one seemed to complain much about these tendencies. It had become a norm by then.

I studied hard, got good grades and was about to set on the path to the apparent ‘success’ when I realised that in the midst of this universe, something was missing.

A generation of kids were brought up in a synthesised environment and made to believe that that was the only reality.

Through my experiences sometime later, I would discover that this system had one major fault-line: all everyone wanted was ‘more’. We weren’t seeking healthier and better lifestyles but the glamorised ones where iPhones, luxury cars and fashionable branded clothes made life ‘better’ and us, successful!

What was missing in this narrative was work that was driven by meaning, choices that were made with prudency and necessity and, a life that was inclusive rather than competitive!

I learnt about sustainability by living close to nature. It rekindled the bond that had been lost a long time ago. It made me realise that nature is perfect and flawless in its own ways and it requires no improvement. Our only duty is to preserve it for our future generations.

Sustainability is not only about the glorious idea of saving the planet and life forms but about our outlook towards life. It is about the everyday choices we make and why we make them?

Sustainability is not a favour we are doing to the planet. The planet has existed and will exist with or without the human race. It is a favour we are doing to ourselves and our future generations! So, the next time when someone asks you why do you choose to be sustainable, ask them: Why Not?

I am not proposing an idea of sustainability in a hunter-gatherer perspective and asking all of us to abandon our modern lifestyles. I am actually brushing that idea aside. That, in fact, is not a sustainable way to proceed too.

What I am proposing is far much simpler and adaptive. Let us all start somewhere. One step at a time. If someone eats meat, that’s great. I don’t want anyone to give it up. I myself haven’t given it up yet. What I have started doing, however, is reduce my meat intake from twice to once a week. Does it matter to me if I don’t get chicken on my plate for one meal less? After a couple of times, not really. If one is a heavy consumer, take it easy. Don’t stress about it. At least give it a thought. This is contagious. It will find its way to you because this is not some conspiracy theory or slithering propaganda. This is our reality!

If you cannot relate to this and think all of this is bullshit; that our planet is in completely good shape and some paranoid idiots are making this crap up. It’s alright. This article then addresses the future you. Some years from now, the reality will dawn upon all of us and we will understand what all of this meant.

Until that day of great enlightenment, let us put into practice some acts of sustainability even if we are not hundred percent satisfied with the argument since, during these times of market driven economy, we are anyway making choices based on deceptive media messages; might as well add one more act to that list of driven actions. At least, this one will contribute towards saving life on earth as it exists.


Written and Illustrated by Mohit Arora

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