What can I do?

Every change that happens in societies and organizations needs individuals who initiate it...

The highly topical question arises: To Have or to Be?...

Everything new first matures in the dark...

No Easy Answer

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Every change that happens in societies and organizations needs individuals who initiate it.

The question of what each one of us can do to make the world a more sustainable place is not easy to answer. 

Maybe we can make the greatest difference:

  • if we take other people with us on the path to sustainable development,
  • if we act together and network locally and globally,
  • if we push for fundamental changes in politics, so that it listens again to the voice of the people and not only to the voice of the big companies and banks,
  • if we reduce our collective consumption by just ten percent, because that would already have a major impact on many of the most polluting activities of our economy.
    According to: 
    Graeme Maxton. 2018. Change! Why we need a radical turnaround.

© Arthimedes | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2019 

The question How can I live sustainably? is not easy to answer either.

There are at least two main reasons why this seemingly simple question is so difficult to answer.

First, the answer depends on how you define «sustainability». And second, we are not alone: nearly all of us live in societies that are far from what most people would call «sustainable», so that «living sustainably» is not just a matter of individual lifestyle choices, rather would also involve fundamentally changing our societies as a whole. [...].

Thus, over the years, I have begun to pose the initial question a bit differently: How can I live in a way that supports sustainability?
Mark Lawrence. 2023. How can I live sustainably? RIFS Research Institute for Sustainability Potsdam.

© klauscook | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2023

We need both systemic transformation and individual behavioural changes. One without the other will not get us to the necessary scale of change at the necessary pace.
Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. 2020. The Future We Choose - Surviving the Climate Crisis.

If at all, the willingness to support measures against the overexploitation of natural resources can only be achieved with the participation of civil society, i.e. "from below" and not "from above".

Of course, the implementation, financing and coordination of climate policy measures requires the legislative power of politics, but this requires support in the attitudes and behavioural orientations of citizens.
Translated from: Beckert Jens. 2024. Verkaufte Zukunft. Warum der Kampf gegen den Klimawandel zu scheitern droht.

Realign Lifestyle

© Ulrich Brunner 2024. Wallpaper © Vladimir Sazonov | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2018

Overconsumption by the rich

In addition to our daily basic needs, let's only consume what really adds genuine value and ask ourselves the highly topical question: to Have or to Be?

Erich Fromm describes 1976 in his book To Have or to Be? the prerequisites for a fundamental change in the economy, politics and society in order to overcome the present crisis and to move from an orientation towards having to one towards being.

My ecological backpack
Calculate my own resource consumption

The consumption-orientated lifestyle in rich countries is probably no longer an attractive option for our children and grandchildren:

  • First, because we are causing major and irreversible damage to nature and people in the Global South are affected first and foremost.
  • Second, because the price we pay in our lives is disproportionately high compared to the benefits gained, this being increasingly felt by the suffering of so many wealthy people in industrialised countries.

The working conditions and the acceleration […] alienate people, stifle their creativity and prevent them from having a meaningful relationship with the world, with others and with themselves.

Conversely, inner emptiness and a lack of resonance lead people to behave like robots and serve a dehumanising system that can only sustain itself through the accumulation of products and the meaningless multiplication of activities.
Translated from: Corine Pelluchon. Die Durchquerung des Unmöglichen. Hoffnung in Zeiten der Klimakatastrophe. 2023.

If all parents always strive for their children to have it better one day, and confuse this with «having more and more», then all children will one day be less well off.
Translated from: Maja Göpel. Unser Wunsch nach mehr, unsere Angst vor weniger. Wie unser Wohlstandsmodell den Planeten ruiniert. Blätter 3/2020, S. 98-106.

The question arises: What philosophy of life is behind the insatiability of us who live so stubbornly and so dispassionately and morosely at the expense of others and the environment? 
Translated from: Gabriela Simon: Mehr Genuss! Mehr Faulheit! Mehr Schlendrian! Die Zeit Nr. 42/1992


© Depositphotos | lilmallugirl  

Pay more attention to the environment.
For example, with tips from:
WWF World Wildlife Fund
Global Stewards 
and many other local, national and international platforms on the internet.

Richness of Nature 

© Sunny studio | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2018 

All of us need very personal experiences outdoors in the richness of nature. Because we humans only protect what we appreciate, and we only appreciate what we really know.

Especially in the industrialised nations, increasing urbanisation is leading to a drastic decline in people's connectedness to nature.

Probably the most important factor in strengthening our connection with nature is the time we spend in nature. People who spend more time outdoors tend to be more nature-connected.

Recent research has also shown that childhood connectedness with nature has a strong impact on later connectedness to nature as adults.
Kleespies Matthias Winfried et al.2022. Naturverbundenheit stärken - aber wie? Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung.

© Ulrich Brunner 2024 
Quote from Mahatma Gandhi


by Joanna Macy, systems theorist and environmental activist

© miniolka | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2023 

1. The first is to be grateful for living in a time that challenges us so much to change and awakens that sensual, almost erotic instinct in us to sustain life.

2. The second piece of advice is: Don't be afraid of the future that lies in darkness, don't be afraid of uncertainty, stress, loss, because all that is part of a drastic change. Everything new first matures in the dark. And we cannot wait for ready-made plans to take the next step.

3. The third tip is to roll up your sleeves. Get involved politically, get an overview, ask questions about purpose and meaning. Anyone can do that. Don't sit back, don't get discouraged or paralysed. There is so much to learn and do at this time.

4. Fourthly, I would say: have courage of vision. If we compare the psyche to a muscle, then imagination is our least developed muscle.

© Sergey Nivens | Shutterstock, Inc. [US] 2023

We must allow positive visions of the future to blossom within us.

For nothing new will come into the world through us that has not previously taken shape in our consciousness.
Translated from: Geseko v. Lüpke. Politik des Herzens. Nachhaltige Konzepte für das 21. Jahrhundert. 2015. p. 93 - 105: Im Gespräch mit der Ökologin Joanna Macy.