It’s a familiar mantra – reported in the media as a ‘Cost Of Living’ crisis – as if rising costs are a temporary blip, that we should sit tight and ride it out. Which would make sense, if there was any kind of big picture plan to bring costs down.
But there isn’t.
In fact, by continuing to do things the way we already do them. By producing, using, and wasting energy and food; generating and discarding waste in the way we already do, if anything, things will only get worse.
Failure To Act
At the tail end of last year there was another COP meeting. Where the world’s decision makers traveled in private jets to a country who’s vulgar over-consumption, built on fossil fuel wealth, is enabled and celebrated.
The result will be a word salad of non-committal pledges that allow business as usual for the richest people and corporations in the world.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are struggling to meet the rising costs of basic essentials – food, fuel and shelter.
When 1% of the population consume 90% of its resources, a ‘cost of living crisis’ is a political choice.
It would be fair to call it a cost of greed crisis.
How does the cost of living demonstrate a case for sustainability?
The cost of living “crisis” and living sustainably are intrinsically interconnected.
When something is unsustainable, by definition, it has limits. Limits create a basic supply and demand issue. When something is limited, it’s demand outstrips supply. This in turn increases costs.
Understanding this relationship, highlights the importance of adopting sustainable practices.
And when governments and decision makers renege on their sustainability pledges, don’t believe the lie that it’s for ‘our benefit’ and it will ‘save us money’, when the opposite it true – and this is why:
Much of this is Blindingly Obvious
I’m going back to some fundamental basics here.
Things that are stupidly obvious, but are often conveniently forgotten or ignored in favour of a making a few quid!
Here are some ways in which the cost of living makes a case for sustainability:
It is a fundamental truth that we live on the only habitable planet we know of in the universe.
Our planet has boundaries. It has finite resources. Humanity is currently living beyond its means.
Whether you believe in Climate Change or not is irrelevant here, our planet’s resources have limits. In order to sustain human life on this planet into the future, we need to use those resources efficiently. We need to switch our dependency to resources that are renewable, otherwise they will simply run out. They may not run out in our lifetimes, or those of our children, but they will, and we are gambling with their future to feed our greed as a species.
By consuming less, we create less. This means using fewer resources, creating less waste and using less energy. Sustainable living uses resources more efficiently. Lower consumption of goods and services, in turn, reduces the overall cost of living. For example, using energy-efficient appliances or choosing products with minimal packaging can save money in the long run.
The most sustainable product is the one you don’t buy.
Long-term Cost of Living Savings:
Investing in something that lasts longer initially means spending less over the long term. This can be buying less ‘stuff’ but buying better when we do buy. Or buying in bulk.
Buying in bulk means fewer distribution miles, less packaging. However, being mindful of those choices because it can also lead to excess waste.
It is a fundamental truth that our planet depends on the sun.
No sun, no planet, no life.
Our entire planet is solar powered and we have the technology to capture and store this in the form of solar energy.
There are other planetary processes that life depends on – that we are also able to harness, such as the wind, tidal forces, geothermal activity.
These are all renewable. I find it baffling that we still depend on fossil fuels (resources that will run out, probably in our grandchildren’s lifetimes) when there are better alternatives, already there, that we are already able to use.
Investing in renewable energy sources may have a higher upfront cost, but over time, it can lead to significant savings on energy bills. Solar panels, for instance, can generate electricity for an extended period, reducing dependence on non-renewable energy sources and lowering utility expenses.
An Efficient Built Environment:
It is a fundamental truth that there are a lot of people on this planet and people will continue to breed.
Those people need shelter. A basic human need is a roof over our heads. It is a political choice to allow homelessness to exist.
But housing people involves constructing places for them to live in. And construction can be environmentally damaging.
Using resources and energy efficiently reduces waste, but the technology already exists to make our built environment ‘climate positive’.
What if you home could not only generate enough energy for you to live comfortably, but can also be a power plant? Or a building is so well insulated it doesn’t need energy to heat it at all? What if a building positively encouraged biodiversity? or the raw materials for the building itself were renewable?
Again, it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in Climate Change. Surely you’d want to breath air that doesn’t stink of pollution? Or swim in a sea that isn’t choked with plastic? Or see wildlife in its natural habitat?
Sustainable practice contributes to a cleaner environment, reducing pollution and promoting better public health.
A cleaner environment can lead to lower healthcare costs associated with treating illnesses caused by pollution or environmental degradation.
Resilience to Climate Change:
Adaptation and Mitigation: Sustainable practices contribute to the global effort to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts. By investing in sustainable infrastructure and practices, communities can reduce the financial burden associated with adapting to extreme weather events, such as flooding or hurricanes.
This is where small businesses can make the biggest impact. We are the backbone of the economy. We’re agile, resilient, innovative, adaptable and purpose driven. By supporting small business and choosing locally produced, ethically sourced, goods and services supports local economies. This creates jobs and vibrant communities.
Instead of lamenting the empty shops on your local high streets and complaining about how communities ‘used to be’ – do something about it.
Use it or lose it!
Foster community resilience, and reduce dependency on expensive imported goods.
Reuse and Recycling:
Embracing a circular economy by reusing and recycling materials can reduce the need for new production, saving resources and lowering costs. This approach contributes to waste reduction and can result in economic benefits over time.
However, ‘recycling’ is not the first option. Many procurers and retailers use ‘it’s recyclable’ as an excuse to continue wasting resources, then passing the problem onto consumers. There needs to be action at the highest levels to force a change in attitude so those that create the waste (producers and retailers) are responsible for it. Better still, save resources by not creating it in the first place – reduce, reuse and repair before resorting to recycling.
Efficient Water Use:
Sustainable practices, such as water conservation and efficient use, can lower water bills and reduce the overall cost of living. This is particularly relevant in regions facing water scarcity.
Public Transportation and Sustainable Mobility:
Investing in sustainable transportation options, such as public transit, biking, or walking, can reduce individual transportation costs. It also helps alleviate traffic congestion and and pollution.
Subsidies and Tax Credits:
Governments may offer incentives, subsidies, or tax credits for adopting sustainable practices. These can directly impact the cost of living by reducing expenses related to sustainable investments. So far, the UK government is failing to do this.
We can’t rely on bold decisions by courageous leaders to affect meaningful global change, but we can make choices within our own control.
It is left to us, as individuals, to educate ourselves and do everything we can to bring communities together for collective action.
Environmental destruction is a political choice when governments choose the financial influence of Big Oil and other Climate Criminals at the expense of their citizens, expecting the rest of us to foot the bill for their apathy, incompetence, and downright greed though an increasing cost of living.
We can use our democratic vote, but we can also vote for change with our wallets by making ethical choices as consumers.
Sustainable living not only benefits the environment but also contributes to economic well-being on individual, community, and global levels.
This is the Big Picture plan to bring the cost of living down to sustainable levels.