Some Loose Thoughts On Sustainability

In the aftermath of the Zermatt Summit 2018, I thought a lot about environmental issues and sustainability. Here are some loose thoughts I had.

Photo by Thomas Lambert on Unsplash

Before I bother you with my thoughts, I should define sustainability a little bit better. For me, sustainability has three stakeholders: The environment, the economy, and society. Something has to meet the needs of all three stakeholders to be sustainable.

During my thought process, I identified three topics around which my thoughts gather: Awareness, the duality of money and moral, and our habits.

So let us begin:

Awareness

Since I dived in more in-depth into the subject, I‘ve been a lot more conscious when I do my grocery shopping. For example, I realized I have to let go of one of my favorite dishes because it contains palm oil. At least, we have pretty clear and high standards here in Switzerland. I can buy Swiss meat, and our laws assure a certain quality and sustainability in the way the animals were held.

On the other side: It‘s quite hard to keep track of your everyday consumption — even if you want to. There is not much information about food if you eat in a restaurant or cantina. It is likely I‘ve sinned in the last few weeks without knowing. That bothers me sometimes, but often I just do not think about it. It is the way I used to do it until now.

Money and Moral

Just recently, Switzerland held two referendums concerning fair food and local agricultural goods. Of course, the groups who proposed a no argued with cash: Products will get more expensive. So, of course, people were afraid. Both referendums did not get a majority.

It is a difficult decision between egoism and moral. I am lucky. I earn enough to buy organic and fair traded products. However, I know many people who do not have that opportunity. They would if they could.

On the other hand, there is an essential question: Are we as a society willing to have products in our stores of which we know people are dying somewhere on this planet?

Everybody with some ethical compass has to answer this question with ‚No‘.

Habit

Even though there might be awareness and enough money to buy the right products, the toughest challenge is to break the habits. However, I do not believe in prohibition. Sustainable products have to get a lot more attractive, cheaper, and sexier to buy. We respond a lot more to positive incentives than negative ones.

I own a car even though I use it rarely. I own many gadgets, which contain difficult materials like lithium. I like to eat meat. To be honest, I do not want to cut back on those luxury goods even though I feel guilty when I think about it. Also, I sometimes think of my conscious shopping as a hypocrite action to compensate for my ‘sins’. However, maybe it is wrong to call it a sin because if I cannot convince myself to change my behavior in every aspect of my life how on earth can I convince anybody else?

So, those are my thoughts for now. What do you think of them? I would like to hear yours on the complicated issue of sustainability.

Change is an opportunity. Product Owner at Blick.ch and learning at Hyper Island.

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