Life lessons we can learn from environmental sustainability

When we see or hear the word “sustainability” we tend to think of only renewable fuel sources, reduction in carbon emissions, environmental protection, etc., without thinking about how each individual could sustain their own life. Although sustainability can protect the natural environment and human and ecological health without compromising our way of life, we can use its principles to enhance our emotional well-being, employ our talents to full effect, and continuously generate joy, contentment, fulfillment, income, etc.

From the perspective of environmental science, sustainability focuses on meeting the demands of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own demands. A good example that illustrates the ill-effects of unsustainable living is when a pharmaceutical company discharges highly concentrated and polluted wastewater into a nearby river used by people who live around the vicinity of the river.

Probably, the company’s intention is to avoid short-term costs of properly disposing such wastewater into a different—but distant—body of water not used by people; however, discharges, especially if done consistently, could lead to water-borne diseases and other expenses that have been known to create significant long-term environmental damage on both the people who consume polluted water, and the water environment (river) itself.

Sustainable nations & sustainable people

One great quality environmentally sustainable nations have is that they effectively conserve their natural resources, and survive pretty well on income generated from their resources—which can be divided into renewable and non-renewable (you can read about renewable and non-renewable resources here). In summary, sustainable nations use their resources in ways that preserve/conserve them indefinitely.

Like any sustainable nation, sustainability should be the major goal for anyone who’s interested in meeting personal current and future resource needs, and generating income for survival without compromising the ability of one’s future to meet future needs. Such goals should be the dream of all individuals, irrespective of their professions.

The good news is that, generally, everyone is given some talent (natural resource) at birth; however, each person goes on to use their talent(s) in different ways while growing up. The bad news is that most people either under-utilize their talent(s), or don’t even use it/them at all.

One point that should be kept in mind is that talent is only a starting point for generating income and becoming successful. A lot of effort is required to efficiently and productively use that talent in a sustainable way, and over a long period of time.

Good enough, as long as we are alive, each person’s time and talent have the ability to be renewed; so we can safely say that both time and talent are renewable resources like solar energy. Resources can be either used sustainably or unsustainably; for example: imagine that someone used his talent (natural income) to earn £500,000 over a period of time after investing both.

Next, he took part of his money and invested in a profitable business that earned him 20% interest per year; implying that he generated a sustainable income of £100,000 per year, and which he could survive on indefinitely. Bear it in mind that he still had £400,000 fixed income alongside any leftover whenever he didn’t withdraw more than the £100,000 interest generated each year. The above illustration depicts the life of someone who lives sustainably.

On the other hand, if we look at a scenario opposite to the one illustrated above, and whereby—instead of living sustainably—the individual lives unsustainably after inheriting £500,000: he didn’t invest time and talent to get £500,000, but rather inherited it from somebody who did, and went ahead to spend £ 100,000 each year without investing any leftover. Also, he was so lazy that he couldn’t use his natural talent (e.g., singing, acting, writing/blogging, editing, proof-reading, etc.) to generate any income.

Under such circumstances, the initial capital of £500,000 (which he inherited) would disappear after 5 years—if he spends at a rate of £100,000 per year without investing neither income nor talent. The bottom line is that spending £100,000 each year without working (using talent and time) and investing part of the capital (£500,000) he inherited, would definitely lead to bankruptcy after 5 years.

The thing is this: you can’t compare someone who lives on their income without investing their time/talent (natural capital), with another someone else who efficiently uses their time/talent in a consistent manner, and invests their capital in ways that generate consistent returns of income and trust. People who consistently invest their time and talent will definitely reap much more than those who either don’t use their time/talent (natural capital) consistently, or don’t invest their income at all.

The lesson for everybody is an old one: protect your capital (time/talent), and live on the income your time and talent generate. If you deplete or waste your capital (time/talent), and don’t invest any available income—if there are any—then you’d likely live an unsustainable lifestyle and become doomed.

However, if you invest your time and talent and look for profitable ways to invest any capital generated from your time/talent, you would likely live sustainably and become prosperous. This also applies to the use of the Earth’s natural capital: the natural resources Mother Nature has provided for mankind and all other living things. If the earth’s natural capital is properly conserved and used to generate income, then human and animal populations will have adequate natural resources and income for the foreseeable future.

The bad news is that many people are living unsustainably by wasting, depleting, and degrading their natural capital (talent and time) at an accelerating rate. Their inactivity has been known to hamper their self-development and put strain, not only on themselves, but on their country’s leaders and economy as well.

The good news is that we have the power and ability to put a halt to procrastination and make proper use of our talents/times in order to generate income and conserve our talent along with our emotional and mental health/well-being.

How to live sustainably by effectively using your natural human resources (talent & time)

  • get to work, either for yourself, or for someone else. No matter the situation you find yourself in, remember that you have some talent, and there’s something you’re definitely good at. Find it and start doing it by starting from somewhere. Keep this thought into your mind: the greatest men were once unknown, especially when they hadn’t started putting their talents to effective use.
  • use your energy, time and talent (what I call renewable human resources) efficiently and carefully so that you would be able to generate income that would be enough for you to live on indefinitely.
  • minimize the amount of time you waste on things that don’t bring much profit on a long-term basis.
  • re-use your talent in many other areas of life related to your main area of interest.
  • renew your talent by being studious and looking for information relevant to your area of interest.
  • limit negativity—and if you are diverse—protect, maintain or enhance your diversity by reading and meditating on informative and positive literature/information; make it a habit to do this repeatedly until you are habitually positive, irrespective of any negative circumstance(s) that could be going on.
  • always visit/stay in places, and around people who make you feel good and be at your best.
  • protect your health, eat good food, clean up your environment regularly, and use the least amount of non-renewable resources as you possibly can.
  • list and strive to achieve more goals that have consideration/respect for the natural environment, human and animal life, and that make you to use technology in a way that conserves resources and protects the environment.
  • respect or place high values on all forms of life.

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