/ Sustainability

What does it mean to live sustainably?

We’re hearing a lot these days about sustainability, Eco living, saving the planet, war on waste, plastic bags, recycling and a lot more. All these issues are part of something much bigger; to use a time-worn phrase, it’s all about living within our means.

This is a guest post by Which? community members Alfa and Ian. All views expressed are their own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

That used to mean not spending more than we earn, but in a way that’s exactly what we’re doing with the planet.

We’ve become used to the idea of disposability – using something once or twice then throwing it away. That can’t go on. At least, it can’t if we want our children and their children to survive. Because that’s what it’s all about. 

Our planet is rich in resources, but they’re not unlimited, as we’re seeing with fish stocks, birds, bees, water and even something we take for granted – fresh air.

As a species we’ve proved time and time again that, without imposed limits, we will simply consume resources until there’s nothing left.

More we can do

It’s a very complex and very large subject, covering areas as diverse as climate change, air pollution, ocean health, food production, energy use and reusability. But it has to be tackled.

Although we, as individuals, are making efforts, by recycling, re-using bags and mending and repairing items we once thought nothing of replacing, it’s not enough. 

Experience has shown repeatedly that the major corporations will focus purely on selling their wares unless they are compelled by governments to adopt strategies and policies that reflect the concerns surrounding sustainability.

But we also know governments are essentially reactive: they won’t take action unless the pressure to do so becomes glaringly incontrovertible. 

Working together

We, as consumers, need a body that will be prepared to coordinate approaches to sustainability, informing and educating, lobbying government, monitoring use and waste across industry.

Above all, this body needs to keep the public’s minds firmly focused on the target: Living within our means. Then perhaps our descendants will have a planet they can still enjoy.

This was a guest post by Which? community members Alfa and Ian. All views expressed were their own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

What does it mean to you to live and buy sustainably?  Where do you feel that we could do more to live in a sustainable way?

What tips and advice can you offer others on living sustainability?


There is a recent Horizon programme about our growing population problem, loss of biodiversity and other problems: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000dl6q/horizon-2020-1-chris-packham-77-billion-people-and-counting