The Original Sin of Sustainability

Adam, Eve, Snake and Apple

Adam, Eve, Serpent, Apple, used under CC license from

Were you born into a lifestyle in harmony and equilibrium with your environment?

It's unlikely that you were, whatever your background. Most of us were already being unsustainable before we could spell it. Think about that for a minute: You have never experienced a sustainable lifestyle. Very few people still alive today have.

None of us can control the lifestyle into which we're born, but we can control the lifestyle our children are born into. Many of us live with self-imposed lifestyle guilt, but remember that you didn't eat that first apple.

You've never experienced sustainability

What does this mean? That we need to stop feeling guilt about what's passed by already. The future depends on the choices we make going forwards now. We need to look forward to a positive vision of sustainability. There is no reverting or going back. The golden time at which humanity truly lived in sustainable harmony with its surroundings is too far away. We need to imagine and embrace a future that none of us have ever experienced, where technology and sustainability are married to the goal of a happy, productive and sustainable future for humanity.

How do we move past our original sin? By letting go of guilt. Speak to any sustainability expert and they'll tell you that the hardest part of any sustainability journey are the lifestyle and behavioural changes. There are fundamental psychological reasons why we're so resistant to changing our values and lifestyles. We're pre-programmed to make sustainability misjudgements.

Maybe our cultural rehabilitation program needs to start with an acceptance that we are (almost without exception) responsible for damaging our environment and ourselves, but that it's not our fault. Once the scorecard is clean, we can start the accounting afresh. I don't know whether that'll help us to refresh our cultural values, but I do know that without forgiving ourselves our original sin, we'll find it much harder to move forwards positively.

The future is the most exciting opportunity going - let's get excited about it.

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