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The evolution of sustainability

Jarvis Smith believes we need to look beyond the easy options and listen to Mother Nature instead
Jarvis Smith - My Green Pod
Evolution of sustainability

This article first appeared in our World Environment Day issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 05 June 2024. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Over the last 15 years I have watched ‘sustainability’ get watered down, like a glass full of melting ice cubes in a what was once quite a tasty G&T.

I’m not having a dig at people or businesses (well, maybe a little one); legislation is lacking and, while the legal landscape around green claims is changing, it’s not happening fast enough.

The ‘quick fix’ myth

I’ve noticed that many people trying to be more ‘sustainable’ will, perhaps understandably, go for the easy options, retrofitting lifestyles and businesses with more sustainable practices – as long as they don’t change the status quo too much. 

One example is plastic, which is now everywhere – even in breast milk. The war on plastic has become hugely popular, and presents straightforward ways businesses and citizens can make a tangible difference to our environment.

People have started to shop differently, recycle more effectively and generally be more aware of the plastic in their lives.

Entrepreneurs have created new products, such as plastic-free laundry sheets, and refill services that help reduce demand for virgin plastics.

But packaging isn’t the only part of a product that makes an impact on our environment, and it’s not right to claim a plastic-free bottle of toxic irritants and synthetic polymers (‘liquid plastics’) is a better option for the environment.

Time and again we see products with formulations that are more polluting than their counterparts in plastic packaging. 

Big multinationals have adopted quick fixes, such as making sure the lids stay attached to bottles so they don’t get separated and float off into the ocean, without stopping to look at how the contents could be improved to reduce the harm caused to people and planet.

If we are going to get to the core of the problem and find real solutions, we need to be looking at things in a multidimensional, holistic and inclusive way. So how do we do that? 

Time to evolve

First we must expand our awareness and our consciousness beyond the limitations of what we are being told is acceptable.

It’s completely clear that large corporations don’t want to change things that are making them a lot of money, so the change has to come from us.

The planet and the universe are constantly evolving; our own human history is no more than a tiny blip in the Earth’s history, which is itself a small blip in the history of the cosmos.

So if everything is constantly evolving, yet we as humans continue to be the same (or worse), that isn’t good. This is where the evolution of sustainability comes in.

We’ve seen sustainability get watered down, but things don’t necessarily have to get worse before they get better.

The evolution of sustainability

Wiser ways

Wisdom keepers still honour and respect Mother Nature as a wise, conscious being, way more knowledgeable than us humans who, despite everything we now know about the crisis we face, continue on a slippery, oily treadmill to our doom.

But is Mother Nature calling this a crisis too? Or would she describe it as an opportunity to remember our true nature – the part in us that is connected to everything there is, will be and has already been?

The bit of us that never dies – the connection to the divine, the sacred ways, the spirit or soul, the creation? I don’t mean some religious deity here, I mean the spirit that is us.

Before religion, politics and big business, perhaps we all lived knowing we are part of a much bigger system; we trusted our connection to nature and that she would provide everything we needed.

Man has unfortunately capitalised her for profit, but now we have an opportunity to unshackle ourselves by being inspired by those Indigenous elders and shamanic wisdom keepers who still live in harmony with nature.

We are all Indigenous to this planet, but born into a system that has managed to disconnect us from the very thing that can save us.

If we can take a moment to invite an awakening of the truths within us, we might all awaken from our slumber, leap into action and take our responsibility as a gift from Mother Nature who is, I believe, simply nudging us awake.

If you feel inspired, please come and join us at the Evolution of Sustainability event on 25 June at the Savoy, London, where we can explore these opportunities together.

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