The world has changed significantly in the last 100 years or so. While every century has marked differences compared to the previous one, the past several decades have seen an exponential increase in scientific understanding and industrial capacity. Combined with the explosive growth of the human population, there’s no doubting the massive impact our species has had on the world in recent history.
But there’s a problem. The record pace in which humanity utilizes the energy and resources of our planet is unsustainable. At the rate we’re going, Earth will be tapped out by the end of this century. Something must be done, which is why more and more people are embracing the concept of sustainable living.
Let’s take a closer look at how sustainability is being achieved across various industries and how this culminates in achieving sustainable living for individuals:
The ability to provide consumers with cosmetics derived from raw renewable resources is a major goal of most beauty brands. An increasing number of beauty PR campaigns work to put a focus on the natural and biobased ingredients found in a brand’s product line. While non-renewable ingredients like petrochemicals have been used in cosmetics for decades, companies are making the switch to oleochemical alternatives. What’s more, they’re finding sources that are renewable and environmentally-friendly.
Many people are surprised to learn how much energy goes into the manufacturing of clothing. For example, it typically takes 500 gallons of water to produce a single t-shirt. Making matters worse is the fact that most clothing isn’t designed to last longer than a few years. The key to sustainable fashion comes down to not only finding less resource-intensive ways to make articles of clothing but to create clothes that are meant to last several years or longer if well-maintained.
Of all the ways in which humanity can significantly reduce our carbon footprint and achieve a more sustainable approach to living, making better food choices is at the top in terms of scale. For instance, it takes 2,500 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil, and the equivalent of one gallon of gasoline to produce a single pound of beef for human consumption. If people ate less meat, the volume of resources required for our diets could be drastically slashed. Even if it’s only skipping meat for one day of the week, the combined impact would lead to a vast uptick in sustainability worldwide.
Laptops, smartphones, tablets, televisions, and other popular electronic products require enormous amounts of energy and resources to produce at the scale required to meet demand. To make this more sustainable, manufacturers and consumers will need to get more life out of individual devices. The companies making these devices need to forgo the desire to encourage people to get upgrades every year, and buyers need to resist the urge to do so.
All of these aspects of sustainable industry add up to a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s here where the straight dope about sustainability becomes clear: if every person on the planet was able and willing to consume as many resources as those in industrialized societies, the result would be a demand that far exceeds the supply. In other words, the clock is ticking for something to be done. It’s only a matter of time before the unsustainable rate of consumption catches up with us.