When I think about the what makes sustainable living difficult, I often come back to the same question. Are we doing enough? Most of us have accepted that we are using resources at an unsustainable rate, and there has been an effort by some institutions to actively reduce their impact on the environment. But some unsustainable habits remain that we have veiled as green. Recycling is a perfect example. While recycling is surely better than throwing items in the trash, do we think about the impact, energy and additional resources it takes to turn recycled items into something else. Such items are carted off by some fossil fuel burning entity, then transferred to a facility that will use additional resources to break down that item in order to create something, and inevitably additional waste is produced in the process. Reusable items are almost always better suited.
Secondly, when thinking about food it’s very difficult to purchase local sustainably grown food on my budget. As a result, I am forced to purchase food that may be good quality, but had to travel across half the world to get here. That certainly isn’t sustainable. And while I do certainly make an effort to use less electricity, I argue that we can make an effort to go even further. The biggest concern with electricity consumption is that the overwhelming majority comes from non-renewable resources and the migration to renewable resources has been slow. Take electric vehicles, for example, as long as the grid continues to use electricity produced by burning fossil fuels they will continue to be part of the problem. Hydrogen vehicles which offer an alternative to electric vehicles and only emit water also pose a problem in that 95 percent of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels. In short, we still have a very long way to go in securing a sustainable future.
The Climate Reality Project – What Does Climate Change Mean for Illinois