PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY Cheryl Falconar Sociology 295: Sustainable Societies Professor Mary Ellen Donnan 31 March 2010


Practical Sustainability: Real Solutions to Current Problems

Abstract Most environmental news seeks to emphasize the disastrous impacts people inflict on the planet in their day-to-day lives, or how multi-national corporations must significantly cut down their emissions and become “greener”. Their statistics continue to overwhelm and frighten environmental activists and other people who care. All the while, what I would assume to be the general population is unimpressed, and believes that these finding will not be pertinent to them, especially in the near future, unless they are forced to spend money for these causes. While Al Gore‟s documentary An Inconvenient Truth and anti-plastic bag initiatives seem to have gotten more people interested and involved in environmental issues, I feel that more variety in the written material is necessary. To counterbalance the excess of material presenting either a disastrous dystopia resulting from lack of regard to the environment, or a theoretical utopia with little apparent links to the present, I wish to present a summary of information dealing with more everyday sustainability issues, and how they can affect the near future. While fictional presentations of a potential future two hundred years from now can be entertaining and leave a haunting impression on the reader or viewer, I believe that these fictional scenarios instil in their audience an impression that

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY change could not possibly be this good or this bad, and that in reality, our situation is a lot less drastic. Furthermore, these types of predictions rarely address realistic or in-depth explanations of how the world came to be that way (whether utterly destroyed or utterly saved), and do not


provide constructive incentive to get involved in social and environmental activism. This is why, in my paper, I wish to combine the critical situation of the Earth today with sustainable methods of change in a foreseeable and realistic future. I wish to put emphasis on today‟s problems and today‟s solutions, not drastic, far-removed outcomes taking place a hundred or more years from now. These issues I will be addressing, then, are the current and hopefully future changes in the world which are already happening to some degree and which need to continue to happen for the purposes of enhancing the sustainability of the human civilization.

Moving Away from Consumerism... or not? The online Oxford English Dictionary defines “consume” as not merely a verb meaning to use something up, but also as a term with implications of destruction and waste. Definitions 7a, 7b and 8 define “consume” as, respectfully, “To spend (money), esp. wastefully; to squander (goods)”, “To ruin oneself through excessive spending”, and “To spend or pass (a period of time), esp. wastefully.” The related word “consummāre” was even used in theological contexts with reference to the end of the world (Oxford English Dictionary Online, 2010). While these definitions are not used very often anymore, the meanings come very close to what modern critics say about consumerism (Dunn, 2008). When addressing issues of consumerism, it is important that the modern-day thinker keep the destructive connotations of consumption in mind as well as the neutral or positive economic-minded ones.

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY In an interview, sociological author Juliet Schor said, “Explaining the rise of consumption as a way of life directs our attention to a major historical shift from issues of survival (need) to questions of want, specifically the planned, systematic arousal of consumer desire.” (2008, pp. 22) While this only refers to people with enough money to spend on wants rather than just needs, it affects the whole world. As the media spreads through globalization, it brings about the apparent need of new products many people can‟t afford. Good marketing, of which there is abundance in today‟s consumer-driven world, turns mere wants into needs in the


minds of its audience. Now we want computers and cell phones, which are very expensive to buy and maintain due to internet fees and costly cell phone bills, and require or highly encourage the purchase of updated versions within at most the next five years. These technologies, it seems, are constantly improving, so the current version is never good enough; the consumer is encouraged to always have the most efficient, cutting-edge technology, or else they are old-fashioned, out of date, and experience far less consumer satisfaction than the consumer who constantly buys new models of products.

Console games such as Xbox and Playstation also exploit the consumer in this way to an even greater degree, because old consoles cannot play new games intended for newer consoles, and games for older consoles eventually are no longer produced. Schor confirms that younger generations, the market of most of these console games, are highly affected at a psychological level: ...younger generations are growing up in a more consumer-saturated world, in a world in which market mediation is so much more important in defining their own identities, subjectivities and social dynamics. This is really the expansion of market culture, of consumer culture, to more and more of social life. And that‟s a

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY process that‟s been going on for a long, long time, but it has accelerated with younger generations. (pp. 589)


Portraying this trend of people having their lives structured around consumerism as a new development would hardly be right, though (Schor); the general public in wealthy countries has been affected by this growing trend for multiple generations now. Television, DVD players, computers, cell phones and music players are far from being necessary for anyone‟s survival, but it has been rare to find a middle-class household without at least a radio or television in it for over half a century now. DVD players, computers, cell phones and portable music players are becoming commodities which, according to the global media, it is absurd to live without these days, unless you do not have the money with which to buy them. The notion that if you have enough money for something then you should have bought it already is one of the beliefs in our culture that needs to be abolished if we wish to reduce our consumption enough to establish a sustainable human world.

While consumerism-based lifestyles are indeed the norm in wealthy countries and societies, anti-consumer movements have also taken shape, and are much less recent than one would imagine. In his book Identifying Consumption: Subjects and Objects in Consumer Society, Robert G. Dunn (2008) explains that the distaste for consumer-based lifestyles emerged long before DVD players and console games came out:

The rise of romanticism, workers‟ revolts, and the emergence of various utopian movements opposed to modern industrial capitalism are well-known examples of a large array of efforts to confront the worse ills of nineteenth-century modernity with

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY alternative visions and ways of life. With the shift of emphasis in the twentieth century from production to consumption, consumer movements and an assortment of cultural avant-gardes have arisen as countertendencies to the increasing force of the corporation and oppressive bureaucratic institutions. The modern problems of alienation, dehumanization, and inequality have thus generated a continuing succession of responses aimed at restoring dignity, power, and a sense of meaning and identity to those most frustrated and harmed by the ascendancy of the modern economy. (Dunn, pp. 4)


Upon reading this, it is possible to speculate the notion that if anti-consumerism hasn‟t become a mainstream phenomenon yet, perhaps it never will. However, if the “modern problems of alienation, dehumanization, and inequality” (quoted above) have not forced anti-consumer movements into dominant cultural thought, perhaps the need to reduce materialism for sustainability purposes will. As the Earth becomes more and more polluted and increasingly affected by climate change, environmental action will become more urgent for mankind‟s survival, and the issue of over-consumption will undoubtedly transform from a bothersome aspect of society into one we urgently need to abandon.

Obviously, consumption itself is detrimental to the environment, but is the very vague idea of somehow annihilating consumer culture the only way to go? Schor says that it is wrong to separate ideas about consumerism into simply “pro-consumerism” and “anti-consumerism”. She argues, rather, that since everyone consumes anyway, the question is how we consume: “The possibility of not being a consumer no longer really exists. So... we don‟t want to be saying, you‟re a bad girl for buying clothes.” (Schor, pp.594) Improvement of the sustainability of

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY consumerism is a much more plausible goal than eliminating the now global and inescapable consumer culture, and for this, more localized (and therefore more sustainable) consumption comes into play. The consumption of clothes is a fascinating and enlightening possibility of where the world can improve in both an environmental and social way. Rather than having mass-produced clothes produced in sweatshops then shipped to the West, says Schor, You could have much more localized, small-scale production, with much closer links between the consumers and producers. This gets many more people involved in design: instead of having big design houses that put out large numbers of identical designs, you would have small-scale designers, with many more opportunities for individuals to be creative as designers but also creative as consumers. They go to the shop, they interact with the designer, and come out with something they like... it‟s also a solution to the problems of working-class women in advanced countries, who are being exploited as sewers, and those working-class women who want to be designers, and for whom there are virtually no outlets. (Schor, pp. 596) This small-scale vision of towns and cities, as opposed to the current model of globalized production industries, works well for all branches of work. With self-sufficient towns, there


would be opportunity for employment in every sector of the economy. Whatever dream a person may want to chase, he or she would find a place to do it in their own locality, or at least within the radius of a few towns or cities. Employment for artists, for instance, would be far higher; they would be needed in many sectors of the economy, including fashion design, as Schor mentioned, and would be able to chase their dreams as artists. This is in stark contrast to today‟s



society, where the pursuance of an arts degree tends to be perceived as the gateway to a dead-end career path. The rise of consumerism is not going completely unquestioned in today‟s society, but it nonetheless remains the dominant culture in wealthy countries. Hopefully, anti-consumerist movements and movements promoting localized, sustainable industries will become more common as time goes on. While businesses would like to have us believe that the current consumption-dominated lifestyle is natural, and that money can buy happiness, it is clear that anti-consumer movements are gaining momentum and that more sustainable alternatives to the specific type of consumerism practiced today could theoretically be put in place.

Large-Scale Possibilities for Sustainability One of the most vital steps to enhancing the sustainability of human settlement is localizing food sources as much as possible. As globalization and free trade negotiations allow and encourage countries to ship food thousands of miles away, the average amount of processing and traveling that an item at the grocery store goes through increases. According to Bringing the Food Economy Home, by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Todd Merrifield and Steven Gorelick, this results in “food that is neither very flavourful nor nutritious, at a price that includes depleted soil, poisoned air and water, and a destabilized global climate”, that weakens local economies and farms while financing mega-corporations which care only for profit and never about food security, nutrition or ecological destruction (2002, pp. 116). Local and organic foods are far more sustainable, for they travel far less “food miles” to their destination, thereby reducing gas, power for temperature regulation and packaging required for transportation; they require less or no preservatives in the case of local foods; no pesticides, herbicides and fungicides in the case of

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY organic foods; and support small-scale farming that is conducive to local economies rather than large corporations which tend to exploit countries in the global South for the sake of profits that go exclusively to the global North (Norberg-Hodge et. al., 2002). The shift from local, sustainable farming to more industrialized systems can be particularly seen in the example of the community of Sa-Adnathom, Thailand. Since the


construction of the Lampao dam in the nineteen sixties (construction began in 1963 and ended in 1968), the villagers discovered all the negatives impacts of the switch from sufficiency farming to more modern, consumerist lifestyles: “the ecological system was incessantly destroyed; the fertile land was contaminated with poisonous chemical substance and insecticides damaging the productive quality of land.” (Bowjai, P., Sata, W., Veravatnanond, V., & Rithdet, P., 2008, pp. 336) This was a radical switch from before the construction of the dam, when the area‟s “rich natural resources were more than enough for the people residing there.” (Bowjai et. al., pp. 335) In 2002, when the community decided to learn means of production which would not harm the environment, they ran into social difficulties “because the villagers had already sunken deep in the luxurious culture from outside. Nevertheless most people of Sa-Adnathom held fast in their belief that they would be able to rehabilitate natural resources and the environment.” Buddhist teachings about the way of life using sufficiency, and the King of Thailand‟s approval of this strategy, helped significantly in their outlook and determination to succeed. (Bowjai et. al., pp. 336) Obviously, the need to simplify and go against modern consumer culture is not only present in niche-type anti-consumerist movements in the U.S. and the materialistic Western world, but in so-called “developing” countries as well. Despite this hopeful circumstance in Sa-Adnathom, however, many areas of the economically marginalized world are not so lucky. As the population grows, so does the global

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY need for food, especially for wealthy Northern countries that practice a high level of consumerism. Because labour in the global South is cheap, this is where multinational corporations, in finding ways to feed the North, go to find more places to practice their


agriculture. The ruthless hunt propels the corporations to seek out fertile lands which are often in use by small communities of Natives and subsistence farmers. Because of this, “millions of people in the South are being pulled away from sure subsistence in a land-based economy into urban slums from which they have little hope of ever escaping.” (Norberg-Hodge et. al., pp. 114) Not only, then, are the lands taken away, but the communities disperse and disappear, whether gradually or suddenly. The former inhabitants, then, completely and utterly removed from their former livelihood and wealth, have little or no ability to protest and move into urban areas to become beggars, sweatshop workers, prostitutes, and criminals (Salleh, pp. 8 & 22). Local production and local consumption are, of course, the answers to this deplorable and widely used business tactic: “Rather than further impoverishing the South, producing more ourselves would allow the South to keep more of its resources, labor, and production for itself.” (Norberg-Hodge et. al., pp. 113) Attempts at maximizing the locality of food and other essential needs are the basis of permaculture. Derived from the words “permanent”, “agriculture” and “culture”, permaculture entails organic and local food production which serves the farmers and the other consumers sustainably (Veteto & Lockyer). For this to happen successfully, large efforts must be made to study the farming potential of the area and the specific needs of the people who will live off this land. It is often a complex process, for “detailed knowledge of local ecological, political– economic, and socio-cultural systems [must be] combined with a global awareness and scientific acumen” (Veteto and Lockyer pp. 48). The Global Ecovillage Network, which claimed to be



“tracking over 400 ecovillage projects around the world” in 2008 proves that these efforts can be successful; Earthaven Ecovillage, located in the Appalachian mountains in North Carolina, was founded in 1995 and today boasts continuing success, based on permaculture theory, and 60 members (Earthaven, 2010). Unfortunately, permaculture has largely been ignored in academia (Veteto & Lockyer). Arguably the greatest attempt at a large-scale sustainability settlement like Earthaven was the project of turning Dongtan, China, into “the world‟s first purpose-built eco-city” (Head & Gutiérrez, pp. 423). The project was going to be a large attraction in the Shanghai Expo in 2010, and was mostly co-ordinated by Arup, a “well-regarded UK-based design, engineering, planning, and business consulting firm” (Larson, 2009, para. 12). “Not only will it be the first fully sustainable city, with half a million people living there by 2040,” said two Arup workers in 2007, “but the innovations, new thinking and lessons of Dongtan could one day be the cornerstone of the way 21st-century cities are designed.” (Head & Gutiérrez, pp. 423) It was also claimed that “issues such as land use mix, transport, economics, water, energy and building design”, as well as social function in the community, were all taken into account during the planning process (Head & Gutiérrez, pp 424). A year after these optimistic plans were published, the entire Dongtan project failed for political reasons: “Shanghai Communist Party chief Chen Liangyu, a well-known backer of the project, was sentenced in 2008 to 18 years in prison for bribery and abuse of power”, and those who took his place did not continue with Liangyu‟s Dongtan project (Larson, para. 21). Although governments and communities are now showing more interest about sustainability issues (Veteto & Lockyer; Rojas Blanco), the fact that intentional communities such as Earthaven have managed to implement much more successful projects than large



companies and governments, prove that grassroots movements are more competent for this type of change. “Traditional top-down decision-making processes have become inadequate” due to their inability to adapt to relatively small-scale projects such as ecovillages, but “bottom-up approaches may produce the best results by building on local experiences and knowledge” (Rojas Blanco, pp. 141). In terms of governmental methods of making the world more sustainable, perhaps starting small is best, with smaller projects such as implementing more ecofriendly building codes, which, according to environmentalist Wen Bo, has been a lot more successful in China than their eco-city plans (Larson).

Leisure Activities and Ecological Impact There is a more psychological change that also needs to happen in our society: The genuine appreciation of activities with low or non-existent carbon footprints. While most people enjoy good discussions and just sitting around talking with friends and family, consumer society has taught us to value material things much more. We overvalue expensive objects and events with high prices attached to them, such as reservations at expensive restaurants; spa treatments; new and improved television sets, computers, and cell phones; long, hot showers; music players; trips to far-away places; and admission to theme parks, while we undervalue time spent doing less expensive, less environmentally costly things with people we love. It is unfortunate that we teach our children these values, and it is important that we stop believing in them ourselves and thereby stop enforcing them on others, especially the next generation of responsible, or irresponsible, adults. Fortunately, in terms of leisure activities, low carbon footprints and healthy, socially rewarding activities tend to go hand in hand. As I said, the act of discussion is highly underrated,

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY but it is quite obviously an activity which requires no strain on the environment and therefore contributes nothing to an individual‟s carbon footprint. If we were somehow to revitalize the


story-telling tradition of Native peoples and the ancient Greeks, and make it a significant part of popular culture, we would already be well on our way to reducing civilization‟s strain on the environment. This unlikely speculation aside, there are many activities with very reduced impacts on the environment: Walking, jogging, outdoor track sports, martial arts, jump rope, and swimming in a lake or ocean all require little or no materials and can take place outside, thereby reducing energy costs and the need for specialized facilities. If we add on to include activities which require purchased or rented materials and only minimal energy consumption for facilities, we can add on to the list: reading, card games, skateboarding, rollerblading, and cross-country skiing. Aside from reading and card games, all of these activities are beneficial for a person‟s health, and all of them allow participants to increase their vitamin D levels simply from being outdoors. All of these activities address both adults and children, but if we use the example of children‟s leisure activities exclusively, we see that children have the ability to either be huge consumers or barely consumers at all. To illustrate my point, I will invent two little girls: Child A, who is a physically inactive girl with a large carbon footprint, and Child B, a physically active girl with a low carbon footprint. Child A is an indoors type, who usually occupies herself in well-lit and well-heated rooms which by themselves use up a lot of energy. This girl is provided with innumerable toys with which to amuse herself. Child B, on the other hand, enjoys playing outdoors, and often leaves her house behind so that she can play in the sunshine with her friends – no energy required for heating or lighting here. Child A‟s parents, who are quite well-off financially, encourage her to play with the toys they spend so much money on, and she does so

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY with enthusiasm, while gaining a sense of need for material possessions. She is constantly


thinking of more things to add to her Christmas and birthday lists. Child B, meanwhile, spends a significant amount of time playing what I wish to call “imagination games” with her friends. By “imagination games” I mean games in which she and whoever she is playing with take on the roles of imaginary people and act out imaginary scenarios. Her imagination games can make use of toys, park equipment and other material objects, but they can just as easily be played using trees, dandelions or no material objects at all. On a sunny day, hours can be spent playing these games without using a single unit of energy. On these days, Child B‟s carbon footprint, discounting the energy produced for the food in her body and the clothes on her back, is virtually zero. Meanwhile, Child A has consumed much energy, from that spent to light the rooms in her house and to regulate her house‟s temperature; the energy, oil and material spent to fabricate and transport her toys; the battery power and electricity used to operate her electronics, including her console games; and the extra consumption she engages in after her taste in material possessions has led her to demand more presents from her parents. Energy consumption is not the only thing that makes Child B superior, in a sense, than Child A. In her hours of spending time alone indoors, Child A has developed a weight problem and dislikes physical education classes at school because she is exceptionally bad at sports. Child B does not shares these problems, for when she plays outside, she often unknowingly exercises her body and develops better reflexes by having races, playing tag and catch, and learning tricks on playground equipment at local parks. While she has never been on a sports team, she is faster, more agile, and has better hand-eye co-ordination than Child A. Child B also has a better imagination and better social skills, having entertained herself for so many enjoyable hours by playing imagination games with her friends and neighbours as well as their siblings. While Child



A does invite friends over to her house occasionally, she is shy with new people, unlike Child B, who regularly meets new playmates in her community and adores having enough people around to play games like “Monkey in the Middle”, “Red Light, Green Light”, “Simon Says”, “Red Rover” and various team sports. I have here stressed that the benefits Child B experiences from her low-energy leisure activities far outweighs those to be had by Child A. I have not listed potential advantages of being Child A, but these might include better knowledge of television shows and Internet sites; better finger-eye coordination from playing and mastering several console games; and an impressive accumulation of collectable toys. None of these benefits, obviously, do anything to improve her health. Child B, as I have said, became healthier through her leisure play without even consciously trying to do so. I will now mention that the theoretical Child B is from a lowincome family. Her parents could not have afforded to buy her even half the amount of toys Child A accumulated over the years, but they have been able to keep that a complete secret from their daughter, who costs next to no money to keep happy and healthy. Had the parents of Child A known about these benefits, they undoubtedly would have been overjoyed at this potential solution when Child A began to have noticeable self-esteem issues due to her weight problems, social awkwardness, and fear of embarrassing herself in physical education class. To give an ending to my story, Child B remembers her childhood as a happy one despite unknowingly being financially poor, whereas Child A is mystified as to why, despite having innumerable toys and believing herself to have been well-off due to her family‟s financial situation, her childhood was not really all that spiritually fulfilling. It has been proven that physical activity on a regular basis benefits children‟s health, and, to a much lesser extent, their ease of learning in the classroom (Shephard and Trudeau,

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY 2010). With steadily increasing obesity rates in wealthy countries, non-profit organisations are likely to at least try to promote solutions such as extended physical education classes and more


school- and community-based sports programs, and they will undoubtedly urge governments to financially sponsor these costly solutions. While I approve of these solutions, mine are simpler, require far less financial donations and less effort on the part of governments. What I suggest is that parents, babysitters, and anyone else involved in childcare learn to value the free, environmentally friendly ways of raising a healthy, happy child with a conveniently low carbon footprint. While I have only mentioned scenarios of Child A and Child B playing alone and with friends, it is important to note that parents and other childcare authorities play a part in this as well, especially by playing with them in outdoor activities even though it requires more humangenerated energy than simply buying them toys or encouraging them to sit in front of a television or computer on a regular basis. Parents are childcare workers must learn not to instil materialistic values in their children but to encourage them to use their imaginations and their natural surroundings to play. If we are to live sustainably, Child B‟s are the children of the future, and Child A‟s will, hopefully, be children of a gloomy consumer-driven world we were fortunate enough to abandon in time.

Fighting the Rich and Powerful Social and environmental activist Vandana Shiva, in her book Earth Democracy, states that “All beings have a right to sustenance”, and that in order to achieve this justice, “Resources vital to sustenance must stay in the commons... These rights are not given by states or corporations.” (Salleh, 2006, pp. 249) Shiva is quite right quite in both of these second phrases:



Justice is much more easily and more likely to be fairly administered at the local level than at the global level by “states or corporations”. While middle- and upper-class citizens of wealthy, industrialized countries remain blissfully ignorant, oil companies and other corporations knowingly and irresponsibly exploit third world country villages in order to reap profits that are seldom if ever shared with the people in these less industrialized countries the companies build upon. Although the World Bank claims that the global South owes the global North for all the “development” done there, the ecological damage done unto the South is far more drastic than a complete lack of “development” would have been: “If a notional monetary value is imputed for extracted resources and ecosystem damage, the affluent world‟s ecological debt to the global South far exceeds the latter‟s unpaid World Bank loans” (Salleh, 2009, pp. 2). While fighting this exploitation is difficult and rarely successful, success stories provide hope for future battles. Successful Nigerian protests against Big Oil are a perfect example of this. On Ogoni Day, 4 January 1999, Nigerian activists were able to temporarily shutdown Shell Oil headquarters and close gas flares which were extremely detrimental to the Nigerian Delta people and to the region itself (Brownhill, 2009). After much violence, including the rape and murder of many protesters on that day and those following, an agreement was reached. In the months between Ogondi Day in January and the reopening of Shell‟s oil stations in August, Shell had lost over 95% of its profits. Struggles for compensation for the damage inflicted on the Nigerian environment and its peoples continued, and due to extreme financial losses, “Shell was forced to make a public concession and promise to stop all gas flaring in Nigeria by 2007.” (Brownhill pp. 239) While 2007 was a long time after serious protests had begun (in 1987 there had been a protest against the Pan Ocean oil company, “involving ten thousand Nigerian women”



[Brownhill, pp. 231]), the progress made has been an inspiration to environmentalists and social activists the world over: The Nigerian women‟s „gift to humanity‟... provoked a leap in global consciousness about the common fate of all humans if specific polluters amongst the world‟s tiny clique of the 400 plus billionaires run rampant beyond any democratic control... [and] accelerated an international groundswell of coordinated mobilizations over Big Oil... hundreds of manifestations against corporate rule occurred around the world. (Brownhill, pp. 240) The influence Nigeria has had on the world, by their tireless persistence to fight global powers, breaks the stereotype that the rich have authority which the oppressed are powerless to stop. A group of people with the same ideals can and will make a difference eventually, whether it takes months, years, or, in this example, decades of fighting. While the achievements of the Nigerians who fought the oil companies must not be taken for granted, it must be stated that the motivating factors for these people‟s actions were severe enough that their protests were inevitable: Agbonifo (1994, pp. 72) explains “that the link between dispossession, environmental degradation, political marginalization and the perception of injustice provides the context within which to understand spiralling violence in the region”. Motivation for decades‟ worth of protesting will be much harder to come by for people who haven‟t been as traumatically affected as these Nigerians. A greater willingness to fight for environmental and social rights are needed for protests in First and Second World countries, where living standards are higher and people are usually less directly and less noticeably affected by major corporations.

PRACTICAL SUSTAINABILITY Conclusion There are numerous small and large-scale sustainability initiatives taking place already, and the potential for more in the future. However, in order for these to gain more funding and support, and for more projects to take place, they will need a significantly larger amount of media coverage and academic study. Multidisciplinary approaches to all projects can assure justice for both the environment and the people involved, and success overall. For a worldwide initiative to take place, the public has to be constantly informed of developments, and encouraged to become interested and take part in them. Constructive criticism of sustainability


initiatives would alone be very beneficial; planners of social movements and designers of largescale projects need to know how they are failing and succeeding in all ways in order to produce solutions that work well for everybody in the long-term. Governments, of course, need to know that citizens have a strong desire for a more eco-friendly locality or country, but grassroots initiatives can also have enormous potential on their own. The future of the Earth, and of the human civilization destroying it, is in everybody‟s hands, from economically marginalized groups in Thailand and Nigeria to governments with the power to bestow or withhold billions of dollars to an organization with the signing of a document, as well as everyone in between. Provided there is a global will to improve things, there is no one who cannot play a part in the saving of the Earth, so long as the ideas and innovations for change are there.



Agbonifo, J. (2009). OIL, INSECURITY, AND SUBVERSIVE PATRIOTS IN THE NIGER DELTA: THE OGONI AS AGENT OF REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE. Journal of Third World Studies, 26(2), 71-106. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Retrieved from =login.asp&site=ehost-live Bowjai, P., Sata, W., Veravatnanond, V., & Rithdet, P. (2008). Environment Changes of Lampao Dam Communities in Northeast Thailand. Journal of Social Sciences: 4.4: 334-337. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Retrieved from spx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=36811912&loginpage=login.asp&site=ehost-live Brownhill, L., and Turner, T. E. (2009). Women and the Abuja Declaration for Energy Sovereignty. In Ariel Salleh (Ed.) Eco-Sufficiency and Global Justice: Women Write Political Ecology. (pp. 230-250). London: Pluto Press & Spinifex Press. Dunn, R. G. (2008). Identifying Consumption: Subjects and Objects in Consumer Society. Temple University Press: Philadelphia. Earthaven Ecovillage – Building a Sustainable Intentional Community (2010). Retrieved from Head, P. & Gutiérrez, A. (2006). Urbanization in China: Designing the World‟s First Sustainable Eco-City in Dongtan. In K. Yang & R. Yeoh (Eds.), Cut Carbon, Grow Profits – Business Strategies for Managing Climate Change and Sustainability (pp. 419-429). Middlesex University Press, London. Hemenway, D. (2009). Massachusetts Fruition Project 2: The Urban Permaculture Project: Design Principles and Concepts. Pomona 42.3: 43-49. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Retrieved from N=42846199&loginpage=login.asp&site=ehost-live Larson, C. (2009, April 6). China‟s Grand Plans for Eco-Cities Now Lie Abandoned. Yale Environment 360. Retrieved from Norberg-Hodge, H., Merrifield, T. & Gorelick, S. (2002). Bringing the Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness. UK: Zed Books. Oxford English Dictionary consume, v.1 (March 2010). OED Online. Retrieved from first=1&max_to_show=10&sort_type=alpha&search_id=wLur-PNOJl6-16695&result_pl ace=1



Rojas Blanco, A., V. (2006). Local initiatives and adaptation to climate change. Disasters 30.1: 140-147. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Retrieved from =login.asp&site=ehost-live Salleh, A. (2009). Ecological Debt: Embodied Debt. In Ariel Salleh (Ed.) Eco-Sufficiency and Global Justice: Women Write Political Ecology. (pp. 1-40) London: Pluto Press and Spinifex Press. Schor, J. (2008). TACKLING TURBO CONSUMPTION. Cultural Studies 22.5: 588-598. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Retrieved from spx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=33945223&loginpage=login.asp&site=ehost-live Shephard, R. J. & Trudeau, F. (2010). Research on the Outcomes of Elementary School Physical Education. Elementary School Journal 108.3 (2008): 251-264. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Retrieved from db=a9h&AN=29739555&loginpage=login.asp&site=ehost-live Shiva, Vandana, Earth Democracy. London: Zed Books, 2006, p. 9-11. Quoted in EcoSufficiency and Global Justice: Women Write Political Ecology. Ed. Salleh, Ariel. Pluto Press and Spinifex Press, 2009. Veteto, J. R. & Lockyer, J. (2008). Environmental Anthropology Engaging Permaculture: Moving Theory and Practice Toward Sustainability. Culture & Agriculture 30.1/2: 4758. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Retrieved from in.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=35162641&loginpage=login.asp&site=ehost-live