Personal Sustainability - My relationships with Society, Economy, and Environment

I started Sustainable.REALITY to explore sustainability in a broad sense, with an eye to how I can - realistically - strive to make my own life "sustainable". But what does that really mean?

All too often I think that sustainability is mistakenly used as a synonym for "eco-friendly". But I've long believed that there is far more to sustainability than the environment. One only needs to look at the debates over environmental issues, like the Canadian oilsands, to see that pursuing eco-friendliness is usually entangled with trade-offs regarding money, communities, political interests (not to mention other environmental issues).

So what is "sustainability"? Since I have been thinking about it so much lately, I made a radical move... I looked it up. According to Wikipedia (as of writing, anyways) sustainability for humans is "the potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions." Simple enough definition. It makes sense to me. So how do I plan to discuss these dimensions in the context of my own life?

What I'm really talking about here is what I would call "Personal Sustainability", reflected in the model below. That is, my own relationship with the environment, the economy, and society. It's an acknowledgement that the world the universe is an extremely complex set of interrelated systems, and that one change or action can affect many other parts of the system, often in strange and unpredictable ways (see systems thinking).
There are no absolutes in the topic of sustainability.  It is a balancing act, where pursuing sustainability in one area often has a negative impact on the sustainability of another:  Eco-friendly products are often more expensive;  social programs cost real money; the best financial investments often are in companies that harm the environment (or society).  It's a world without easy answers.  Priorities shift over time.  Urgency is relative to present circumstances.

The topic is fascinating, if a bit overwhelming.  While I am looking forward to exploring it further in the coming weeks/months/years (and hopefully discussing it with many other interested participants!), I recognize that not everybody will be interested in all of these dimensions, and therefore I've decided to offer a variety of subscription options.  These include "sub-blogs" on each of these dimensions, and the ability to subscribe to other related topics that I'm passionate enough to write frequently about.

I hope you'll participate actively, and that you'll enjoy the journey as much as I think I will.

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