"Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process, heal our own."
- Wangari Maathai

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Unsustainable practices - who is responsible?

Is it the manufacturer who:
  • Uses destructive extraction processes in order to obtain raw materials?
  • Harvests raw materials in non-sustainable ways?
  • Infringes on human rights in any way?
  • Causes pollution during the extraction of raw materials and during the manufacture of the product?
  • Uses chemicals that have not been tested for safety and that have unknown effects on the web of life on which we rely?
  • Uses deadly poisons in the production of the product leading to pollution problems, poisonings and destruction of environments and species?
  • Produces products that are not bio-degradable and have limited life-spans (do these products end up in land-fill sites and cause pollution for hundreds of years?)
  • Produces hazardous wastes and does not make provision for the proper disposal of these wastes?
  • Does not inform the public of the dangers of their products before, during or after production?
  • Does not inform the public of the ingredients contained in their products?

Is it the retailer who sells goods not knowing or turning a blind eye to the fact that:
  • The goods fall under any of the categories listed under the manufacturer above?
  • They use huge amounts of non-biodegradable packaging that will take hundreds of years to break-down and cause problems for future generations?
  • Sells products that do not have the ingredients listed on their labels?
  • Sells products containing ingredients that have not been tested for safety?

Is it the corporation that:
  • Uses products that are produced in any of the abovementioned ways?
  • Provides services to companies and organizations that produce these products?
  • Does not raise concerns about these products with the manufacturer or warn the public about these products?
  • That puts profit taking before concerns for the health of the public and the planet?

Is it the consumer who:
  • Unwittingly supports all the above?
  • Does not demand safe products?
  • Does not exercise the consumers’ right to know?
  • Purchases products not knowing anything about the ingredients in it or the manufacturing processes listed above?

Is it the media that:
  • Allows the advertising of products and services that support any of the above mentioned practices?
  • Does not report on CEO’s who are successfully moving their companies beyond  sustainability to being restorative – actually giving back to the earth
  • Does not report on the fact that we need more leaders, corporations and manufacturers who do not just do what the law requires but who do what is right?
  • Does not speak about new possibilities, new ways or a new future?
  • Speaks about symptom of crime but not about some of the causes of crime?

Is it the advertising world that:
  • Advertises products and services that support any of the abovementioned practices?
  • That makes consumers believe that they have to buy more and more stuff?

Is it the government that:
  • Spends a great deal of money in doing ‘more of the same’ and not enough on finding sustainable alternatives for all?
  • Is not pro-active in leading the sustainability revolution?
  • Spends too much money on trying to alleviate symptoms (e.g. crime) and not enough on dealing with causes?

Is it the developer who:
  • Strips the land of topsoil and all plants destroying habitat and ecosystems?
  • Uses building methods and products that are harmful and not sustainable?
  • Fails to use cutting edge technologies that are earth and people friendly?
  • Uses vast amounts of paving causing water to run-off instead of seeping into the earth?

Is it the poor person who:
  • Out of desperation cuts down trees?
  • Out of hunger, steals
  • Out of a profound sense of alienation (the advertising world says that you are not worth much if you don’t have all these consumer goods) commits other crimes?
  • Is it the newly urbanized person who drops a paper on the ground because they do not understand the concept of ‘waste’?

It is all of us.  We are all complicit in it.  We are destroying the earth. 

Let’s talk. Let’s work together. Let’s find new ways of being that are not destructive and that will safe-guard the future for our children.  

Diana Elsmere