Meanwhile, mainstream society has invented a comical joyride in magical thinking — if we simply call something ‘sustainable’ enough times, then it is! In the blink of the eye, forest mining becomes Sustainable Forestry™ and soil mining becomes Sustainable Agriculture™. In a barrage of oxymorons, business as usual is kept on life support, by any means necessary, for as long as possible. What should we do about this? How can we revive the original meaning of sustainability?
Once we start down the path of building resilience, the positive effects become synergetic. For example, by reprocessing recycled materials locally rather than sending them to far-off countries for reprocessing, and by composting local food waste and sewage, communities can conserve energy while creating jobs, building topsoil, and reducing dependence on increasingly unreliable distant sources of food and materials. Again: resilience helps us adapt to inevitable shocks and changes, while also aiding proactive efforts to reduce energy consumption and thus avert future global warming. Building resilience helps us address a range of problems with just a few basic strategies.
To portray the richness of simplicity as a theme for healthy living, here are eight different flowerings that I see growing consciously in the “garden of simplicity.” Although there is overlap among them, each expression of simplicity seems sufficiently distinct to warrant a separate category. These are presented in no particular order, as all are important.
As long as money accelerates around the planet, divorced from where we live, our befuddlement will continue. As long as the way we invest is divorced from how we live and how we consume, our befuddlement will worsen. As long as the way we invest uproots companies, putting them in the hands of a broad, shallow pool of absentee shareholders whose primary goal is the endless growth of their financial capital, our befuddlement at the depletion of our social and natural capital will only deepen.