Sustainable development has gained momentum over the past two decades. We now associate it with improving living standards, poverty alleviation, nutritional improvements, minimising social and cultural instability and resource depletion. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) defines sustainable development as a process that provides for the present generation without compromising on the needs of future generations.
Our lives are now largely urbane, modern, consumerist in nature, demanding a lot of resource consumption to make things around us comfortable. Our urban centres consume more power than rural areas. We keep our cities’ streets and civic areas lighted, for which we use a lot of electric gadgets.
Civilisation and even nature have forced people to adopt newer methods of living and survival. Yet it is widely acknowledged that societies do collapse if we over-use resources as that lead to unsustainable practices. The need is to shift the behavioural pattern in the direction of sustainable living. In this context, it is seen that scientific enquiries and researches have also aided in helping the process by offering technologies that encourage sustainability.
Sustainability and sustainable development focuses on balancing that fine line between competing needs – our need to move forward technologically and economically, and the need to protect the environment in which we and others live. Sustainability is not just about the environment; it is also about our health and society in ensuring that no people or areas of life suffer as a result of environmental degradation. Sustainability implies renewable fuel sources, reducing carbon emissions, protecting environments and keeping the delicate ecosystems of our planet in balance. It looks to protect our natural environment, human and ecological health, while driving innovation and not compromising our way of life.
For example, once the companies offered LED and CFL bulbs, consumers could decide whether to buy a regular light bulb or energy saving, less polluting bulbs. Despite their initial high costs, many people bought them to save on electric bills. As technology improved, these products became cheaper and better and started competing with products made by conventional methods. Consumers today prefer sustainable products over traditional products, even if the cost is higher. Businesses globally are recognising this trend.
Hence, moving towards sustainable living is all about training the mind and adapting to new habits and behaviour. The changes need to be faster through government and private initiatives. We have brought forward many encouraging stories of individuals and groups who have presented the way to modern life while encouraging environmental upgradation, including organic cultivations that promote health and longevity.