Sustainabilism is the approach for achieving environmentally sustainable human well-being.

Sustainabilism is a response to ‘too much’ – too much stuff, too much advertising, too much information, too much work, too much stress, too much waste, too much of everything. Sustainabilism’s attitude is that less is better because less is more – more time, more meaning, more freedom, more certainty, more calm, more peace. It is about living a more essential life.

Sustainabilism for the future

Sustainabilism is an attitude that values the future as much as the present. The present is precious because time is so precious, we only have a limited amount of time on Earth and we should never waste it. Common regrets that people have on their deathbeds are that they had worked too much and spent too much time doing what others expected.

The future is also precious because it will be our descendants’ present. A Native American proverb says that we don’t inherit the world from our ancestors, we borrow it from our descendants. Sustainabilists leave the world as good as they found it, if not better, as a way to ‘pay it forward’ for the lives they have enjoyed.

Sustainabilists favour a life rich in relationships, experiences and creativity, not one with too much material wealth and entropy. In the words of the Earth Charter, once you have sufficient, life is about being more, not having more. A sustainabilist cares about people and nature, not money. You can’t buy love, happiness or meaning because these things are the side effects of being something, not having something. Sustainabilism is about thriving at the least cost.

Sustainabilism is a moral stance based on care and goodwill, and on the cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude. Sustainabilism favours quality over quantity, sufficiency over affluence, and simple living over wasteful living.

Sustainability happens when people’s demand on the earth’s resources (or ecological footprint) is less than the supply the earth can sustain (or biocapacity). By taking more than the earth can sustain we deplete the earth’s ability to produce. Treating capital as income will always lead to bankruptcy. So sustainabilism promotes sustainability over economic growth. Perpetual growth on a finite planet is impossible. Sustainable development can never be about economic growth, instead it is the development of a steady-state, solar and circular economy. A sustainabilist favours craft production over industrial production and a localised, distributed economy over a centralised one. It is about a better distribution of wealth and not about more wealth overall. In other words, sustainabilism is about a better economy, not a bigger economy.

Sustainabilism is the idea that our lives are too precious to be wasted on trivial, unnecessary stuff. Life should be about the joy of being, not the burden of having. Sustainabilism is about making life happen by being more self-sufficient and ‘taking back the value-added’. Self-sufficiency is about consuming less, and producing as much as possible yourself including food, clothes, shelter and energy. The more DIY you can do the better. Self-sufficiency is not about being isolated, on the contrary, there is mutual benefit in helping each other and sharing with family, friends, neighbours and the wider community. This increases trust and social cohesion.

Sustainabilism is the way to a better future by having a better present.

The Ways to Sustainabilism

Be true to yourself and others and live an authentic life on your own terms.

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Take full responsibility for yourself and your actions. You are responsible for your own well-being, for doing no harm and for being a moral and active agent in life.

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Sufficiency is enough for a life of well-being – so take only what you need and nothing more. Being self-sufficient increases your freedom and resilience as well as reducing your ecological footprint.

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Do what you know to be right and thereby be the change you want to see in the world.

Enjoy life’s journey but leave no trace. Every person should leave the world as they found it, or better than they found it.

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This is not some sentimental notion, love is the glue that holds society together. To love is to save ourselves from disconnection, isolation and selfishness. To love is the greatest gift a human can give.

If you support someone else to thrive, that is not a sacrifice, that is a gift. It might seem counter-intuitive that being kind and generous aids our survival fitness and being selfish hinders it, but it is true. When we voluntarily help others we are helping ourselves because we are increasing the amount of trust, goodwill and solidarity in society and that is good for everyone. All for one and one for all. 

All people are deeply connected with each other, with nature and with the whole universe. Inner well-being is very important and comes from tapping into the common core we share with everything. Read more »

Wisdom is the highest virtue because it drives all the others. Wisdom is knowing what is right and using that knowledge to live an authentic life.

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Environmental sustainability happens when ecological footprints are smaller than what nature can continue to provide. So the practice of sustainability is to reduce your ecological footprint.

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