Living sustainably is more popular now than it has ever been.
On social and traditional media, I’m sure you’ve seen people boasting about their sustainable lifestyles or products. In mainstream media you can see the push for living and buying sustainably. It is encouraged for others to join this trend and those who don’t are criticized.
But what is rarely addressed is that sustainable living is a self-serving privilege, not an act of environmental heroism. Sustainability is expensive and unobtainable to the majority of Earth’s population. Because of this, personal sustainability efforts will never significantly impact the environment. It won’t influence production in unsustainable markets, because there will always be a demand for cheaper, unsustainable products from those who can’t afford anything else.
Self-serving sustainability isn’t wrong; of course people can continue to alleviate their personal guilt by reducing their personal waste and only buying from fair labor practices. It’s not harming the world, but it is not saving it either. We need to realize the only significant impacts individuals can ever make on the environment and labor rights is by pushing for systematic changes through political activism. Here you can support public policy that reaches corporations—the true producers of pollution and beneficiaries of unfair and inhumane labor—and force them to adhere to sustainable methods of production and distribution. Why settle for having your own net zero household when you can strive for statewide 100% renewable energy?
If we really want to save the planet, sustainability can’t just be a consumer option; it needs to be a requirement. The only way that can be achieved is by governments forcing large exploitative corporations to change their ways.
Sufia Singh | Santa Cruz
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