Live simply so that others may simply live: 5 ways to live development in your daily life (Part 1 of 2)
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, especially as we have gotten so many great posts on Why I am in Development here on Do No Harm. Sometimes studying development can feel like whole lot of talk and very little action. Can’t wait to get back to the so-called ‘field’ or to set foot ‘on the ground’? Fear not, there’s plenty you can do right here, right now. Let’s stop finger wagging and free riding, and get to it!
So here is the first of a two-part installment I’d like to call Live simply so that others may simply live. I ripped the title off of a sign outside a wonderful sustainable development collective in Andhra Pradesh, India, that I visited a few years ago!
1. Conscious Consumption > Compassionate Consumerism
We all know that money makes the world go round. Yet in the 21st century, commerce is the ‘catalyst of change, good and bad,’ and there are a growing number of solutions that point to compassionate consumerism instead of conscious consumption. Buy that new iPod or Starbucks coffee, branded in (RED) parentheses, and rid the planet of HIV/AIDS! Re-branding (Africa) says something can be done about poverty or deadly disease just by going about our daily consumptive lives—not changing the ways in which we spend.
How can we become more conscious consumers? First, reduce—do you really need it? Second, reuse—can you borrow or buy it second-hand? Third, recycle—can you find use for the old stuff without throwing it out? Fourth, redouble—if you are going to buy something, is it environmentally preferable. Plenty is available through fair trade, so stop free riding and start smart buying!
Finally, find out where your stuff comes from before you buy it!
2. Live the Green Life
We all wish we were more green—and big fixes like cap-and-trade, putting mirrors in the atmosphere to deflect radiation, and so on are may happen with or without too much of our help. But what can we do at home? Buy eco-friendly lightbulbs? Turn off our computers and electronic devices when we aren’t using them?
How about taking public transport, flying less, or buying carbon offset when you do? As development jet-setters, the carbon footprint really gets you with the air travel. How about eating more organic foods, or slow food that supports farmers and does wonders for your health? Unfortunately, many forces are working against you here, as we all know, imbalances in agricultural subsidies and protections for farmers contribute to the fact that farmers in the developing world remain poor, and in the West, a salad costs more than a Big Mac.
What about eating less meat, to decrease your carbon footprint? Eating less meat may be the most effective lifestyle change to mitigate climate change. Why, you may ask? 1 kg of beef has the carbon footprint of 40 kg in CO2 (because of all of the farting that cows do!) This does not take into account indirect emissions and over 10,000 L of water it takes to produce meat.
The hardest adjustments to our own ‘pro-development’ behavior may be in being green. Calculate your carbon footprint, here.
Stay tuned for three more ways to live the development life, right now!