My Actions To Achieve a More Sustainable Future

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Ghandi once said “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.” Ghandi believed that personal and societal transformation go hand in hand. He also struggled with the reality that one person’s actions alone aren’t enough. Social transformation takes the rigorous and persistent action by many. I must say I agree. But, big change in society starts with an individual’s actions. Whether it’s the birth of a social movement like Me Too (or #MeToo), protests like The March for Life and The Women’s March, or the act of eliminating plastic straws from consumer facing storefronts, it started with individual action. Over time these actions gained consensus with many and swept the landscape. Now, I should say that I’m not seeking to create a movement. I only share those examples because we must understand that individual action towards similar or like minded ideas have implications. Some good, some bad. This is most certainly the case when trying to create a more sustainable future.

Those who know me remember I studied sustainability in graduate school. The academics focused on the implementation of sustainability principles into companies, organizations and government agencies. However, those very principles are applicable to daily actions in our personal lives. I admit that while I do a fair amount to be responsible every day, there’s so much more I can do. So, I’m making a commitment to do better, be better. What does that mean? Well, I’m doubling down on implementing sustainability principles into my own daily actions. Before I get further into the actions I’m taking and how you can follow this journey in Instagram, it’s important to understand what sustainability is.

The definition of sustainability can vary based on who you ask. To keep it simple I define sustainability using the UN World Commission on Environment and Development’s guidelines. Sustainability is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This is with regard to the use and waste of natural resources that support environmental, social, and economic health and vitality. Sustainability as a concept presumes that resources are finite, and that they should be used wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences based on the way we consume them. You may have also heard the term “circular economy.” A circular economy is a regenerative system that is different to our current economic model of “take, make, dispose.” In a circular economy we minimize resource input and waste, emission, and energy leakage by slowing, closing, and narrowing energy and material loops. This is achieved through designing longer lasting products, and then maintaining, repairing, reusing, remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and upcycling those currently in circulation. That same concept can also be applied to our own personal decisions as consumers. That’s part of what I aim to achieve. I must point out that this concept is important (to me personally) because it’s estimated humans are using natural resources 1.7 times faster than can be regenerated. Or to put it more simply, we consume 1.7 Earths each year.

January marked the beginning of my journey. Implementing sustainability principles can be difficult, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the concept or steps that can be taken. So, I encourage you to follow my journey on my new Instagram profile where I’ll share tips, tricks and facts while giving a glimpse into my daily life. Some immediate choices include the following;

  • Shopping local to support small business: I’ve chosen to do my grocery shopping from local farmers markets once a week. This requires that I plan ahead and am very deliberate with what I purchase. By supporting small business I’m doing two things; contributing to the economic sustainability by investing in my local community, and also sourcing items that are seasonally produced. Items that are seasonal are in higher supply and tax the Earth far less. Additionally, because these are locally sourced, it produces a smaller carbon footprint since they’re not being sourced from another country or region. Fewer “food miles” means less carbon emitting vehicles required to transport.

Well, I hope that gives you an idea of the steps I’m taking. And while I’m adopting other practices not outlined above I hope you follow this journey. This will certainly be one that evolves through 2019 and beyond. I should also mention that this isn’t a year-long resolution or anything of the sort. This for me is just another lifestyle change as I evolve as a person. That said, I’m not perfect, so I imagine there will be great lessons learned from this change. In all, I will be sharing both my successes and failures along the way. If you have tips, suggestions or have made similar changes in your life I’d love to hear from you. In any case, whether you’re seeking tips or sharing them, don’t be a stranger.

Written by

Social Good advocate for CSR, Volunteer Engagement, and Sustainability. Veteran. Manager of Volunteerism at Marriott International. Visit www.jerometennille.com

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