The Quest for Sustainability

Sustainability. It's a buzzword. It's a fad. It's a culture shift.

But really, what is sustainability in terms of how we grow our food in the world? As a dietitian, I have had the pleasure of meeting many people who care deeply about this topic. People who buy local or organic or avoid certain products because of sustainability.

I myself have pondered how I can lead a more sustainable lifestyle. From which waters was the tuna we ate fished? Who made the clothes I'm wearing? What is the impact of the shampoo I wash down the drain?

 Fishing boats outside the Fish Market in Panama City

Fishing boats outside the Fish Market in Panama City

There are lots of tough questions, but I've found that it's really hard to find the true answers. I wish I could say that I've got it all figured out and that I'll tell you what's up in 500 words or less, but that's just wishful thinking. Let's start with the definition of sustainable.

Sustainable:
1. able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed
2. involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources
3. able to last or continue for a long time
— Merriam-Webster dictionary

Whew. How on God's green earth do we live the way we want to while at the same time preserve our planet? One of the big problems is that we're not all in agreement about how we should live sustainably. That's what I'd like to start a conversation about.

But first, let's begin with the question that must always be answered first: why? Why should we care about living sustainably? More importantly, why should you care about making changes to live sustainably?

 Sunrise on the climb up Long's Peak

Sunrise on the climb up Long's Peak

Here are a few of my reasons that I care about sustainable living:

Preservation of nature

Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that global warming is happening and it is caused by human activity. Algal blooms are caused by runnoff from agriculture, wastewater, and even from household soaps (learn more here). Overfishing wreaks havoc in marine communities (learn more here or download your own good fish guide to eat seafood with a clear conscience). 

Social justice

Love God, love people. It's a pretty simple message that a famous peaceworker (i.e. Jesus) worked hard to spread. So that means it matters that you think about where your chocolate comes from, or who grew your perfectly round canteloupe, or if the American farmer is even getting a fair wage for the crop he produces.

Future generations

Look at that kiddo in the photo below. That's my amazing, smart, talented, creative, wonderful niece. I'd really like her (and her fabulous brother and sister) to grow up in a world that doesn't suffer from longer, more severe droughts. Not only do I want her to have plenty to eat, but I want to make sure that we have a plan about how we're going to feed the rest of the nine billion people that will soon inhabit the earth (hint: starvation is still a real possibility in many parts of the world).

 My super-awesome, fun, creative, talented niece enjoying a little summer slip-n-slide. She's going places.

My super-awesome, fun, creative, talented niece enjoying a little summer slip-n-slide. She's going places.

So there is your thought to ponder. What does sustainability mean to you? And -- take a moment to think about this -- why do you care?

With love, from Peas and Hoppiness.