Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Tuesday 8 June 2010

Sustainability: sacrifice and gain

Sustainability does not mean sacrifice and expense. My environmental friends here in this Asian country are quite convinced. Instead it provides opportunities and competitive advantage. They have brought me in their four wheel drive to this fast food restaurant on top of a high rise building. Below the streets are literally filled with cars. More high rise buildings as far as I can see. Even this high my lungs seem to feel the air pollution. Transition to a sustainable urban development, mobility and clean air and water will not come only through new technologies and better planning. Habits also have to change. E.g. the habits of taking the car, throwing things so easily away. When you stop eating hamburgers and take the bicycle, in the end you will feel better and enjoy the exercise. But the behavior change has it costs: the pain of overcoming the resistance, the effort to keep repeating the new and unfamiliar behavior. I know you have to compromise, but if environmentalists want to be leaders in the change towards sustainability, they should continuously be mindful of what change really means and how it feels. The only way is to practice change yourself. Eating less or no meat is such a practice. Taking the bicycle or reducing your waste to (almost) zero too. Such practice means some sacrifice and expense, but it also provides opportunities for feeling better and gaining support for sustainability by being able to provide examples of change from personal experience.

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