This is the prime time to think twice about our own behavioural patterns. We are at the edge of globalization and no one knows what will happen tomorrow and almost certainly we will insensibly follow what ‘the market’ asks us to do. In such a globalized, profit oriented world, ‘sustainability’ or rather ‘sustainable development’ is a highly hailed, but seriously misused and misinterpreted concept, ignoring its real depth. Let’s start with basics. Are we really sustainable?

The earth was a sustainable living organ a few decades ago; it produced enough food, energy, water for future generations, including all the insects and animals. Thus, sustainability has always been a part of all natural systems and there was no need to inject sustainability in an artificial manner. Unfortunately, man has halted the earth’s ability to sustain life on it. For instance, we think of marine pollution and protection of fisheries simply because it is a matter of our food supply! Similarly, covering all fruit trees by polythene bags and putting as much pesticides possible, we’ve been led to believe that we’ve attained food self-sufficiency, ignoring the rest of the animal world. Shielding ourselves from the slogan of ‘sustainable development’ we are endangering the natural sustainability of the earth. Ethics have been overpowered by selfishness and generations yet to come are in danger, but regrettably, most of us have not understood that we are in a deadlock!

True sustainability is something selfless, a holistic approach where humankind and all the other species are treated equally. A tiny little plant, an animal and a human being- all are equally important and should be treated equally for the survival of our planet earth. No matter the number of laws and treaties available for environmental conservation. Laws and regulations are meaningless if humans are insensible towards individual responsibility.

The environment has no borders; the highly protected political borders have no importance in terms of environmental issues because they are trans-boundary in nature. Therefore, neither the laws nor the states, but you and I are the most competent actors to save our planet earth. What we have to do is very simple. Be sustainable! Awake the volunteer within you, and start from anything which is environmental friendly according to your perspective. It can be the discontinuation of burning polythene at home and handing it over to a recycling process, planting one or two fruit trees not just for you and me, but to feed the animals as well; or refusal to buy products tested on animals. Now, isn’t that sustainable?

(Originally published in ‘The Sunday Times’ Sri Lanka in 2014)

Pictures by K.A. Sandunika Hasangani