5. Work less
In spite of mass production, industrialisation, automation and mechanisation, Westerners are overworked, often to the point of exhaustion. Too often by the time people come home they have no energy to do anything other than sit in front of the TV.
In spite of our wealth and unprecedented economic growth, our work makes us slaves. For a sustainable future we need to work less, do less, spend less and be more. From simply being will emerge relationships, celebrations and joy. Sustainable living is joyful living.
Our lives have become dependent on cars – even for a short distance. This lack of exercise makes us obese and unhealthy, with less energy than we might have if we walked.
We live in homes, drive around in machines and work in offices; we hardly ever come into contact with the natural world. But if we do not know, see, and experience Nature, how can we love it? And if we do not love Nature, how can we protect it? So walking in Nature, taking walking holidays and walking to work can be a real doorway to wellbeing.
7. Bake bread
Gandhi advocated spinning and weaving cloth at home as a way of defying consumerism, reconnecting us with tradition and proclaiming the virtues of simplicity.
For some of us, making our own bread can serve that purpose. Bread is an essential ingredient in the Western diet.
When we bake our own bread mindfully, using organic wholemeal flour, we’re aware of the quality of the ingredient, we’re able to slow down and pay attention, to share and celebrate. If it’s not home-baked, then our bread should come from a local bakery.
Lorries filled with processed bread rushing up and down the country cause pollution: it may be cheap, but in environmental terms it’s very expensive.
8. Meditation and prayer
Our lives have become too busy and stressful. The pressure of work and to succeed; the pressure to cope with excess information – pressure all around.
To restore the balance we must take time to replenish ourselves and to develop soul qualities, for reflection and for our proper relationship with the natural world and the Creator to develop and grow.
Every day, for at least half an hour, we need stillness and silence, so the rest of the day is founded on spiritual tranquillity.
Vested interests will always find ways to fool people and seek profit and power which damage the Earth. Therefore we need to be awake and alert to the exploitative actions of others.
But such protests cannot be made alone; we have to be in solidarity with organisations working for a sustainable future, such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Christian Aid. Choose an organisation which suits your temperament and work with your local community, form a local group and take interest in local politics.
10. Be informed
No one can lay down a blueprint for green living: each of us has to develop our own ideas. But we have to build on all the new thinking in this field. There are books, magazines and courses which can help us. We need to make time to study.
Satish Kumar is a peace and environmental activist and Editor Emeritus of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine.
The Resurgence Festival of Wellbeing, featuring leading speakers, change-makers and performers, takes place on Saturday 23 September, 10.00-18.00, at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL. Tickets cost £45 (£35 Concessions).
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