Humans have always evolved and developed ways to use
natural resources. With the ever increasing the population the rate of using
these resources has always increased and this has led to scarcity and pollution
of the environment. Over consumption or conspicuous consumption and
sustainability are two ideas that run parallelly and are debated worldwide.
While conspicuous consumption is justified on the grounds that display of money
and consumption is a sign of power and it is necessary when nations deal with
each other or have an ongoing cold war, like that of USA and USSR in 1950s. But
in the long run, it leads to a over consumption behaviour which is not
Each idea has its own perspective which we will
explore by talking in detail what are the pros and cons of each and how these
two ideas have coexisted and present the point of view from each perspective.
In the end we’ll see what the overall picture speaks and what is more suitable
human civilization in the short as well as the long run. It will also tell us
what immediate actions and behaviours humans need to adapt for their survival.
On 20 August 2013, we observed Earth Overshoot Day,
the day every year humans exceed the ecological limit of India and pollute the
Earth more than it can endure. The future seems even darker. It is estimated
that in the next 15 years the global supply of oil, fresh water will not be
able to meet the global demand. There are many other domains where our
consumption behaviour is unfair and excessive. This is where the idea of
sustainability jumps in.
Sustainability is not just about Recycle, Reuse, Reduce,
its also about consuming renewable energy sources, adopting measures which are
less harmful to environment. It talks about shifting to a self-sufficient
system of consumption.
But environment has to be seen holistically and
sustainability needs inclusion. All the stakeholders need to understand that
they have to do it not for someone else, but for themselves. Many corporates
are doing huge contributions in this direction and are creating value for
themselves and other stakeholders as well.
“Sadly, right now, sustainability has become a trendy
obsession. Perhaps the only thing that most politicians, economists and many
business leaders crave even more foolishly is constant economic growth. In
plain survival terms, the latter is as ludicrous a proposition as the former.
It is therefore not surprising that spin-doctors and marketers have conflated
the two concepts into the preposterous notion of “sustainable economic growth”.
The idea of sustainability needs to deconstruct the
consumption behaviour and focus on consuming less and valuing the resources
more. We have stopped buying things which can last for a lifetime and the most
durable of products have started coming with a very short shelf life or
durability. This has increased the consumption of basic raw materials like
metals, water, oil exponentially.
Although the idea of sustainability is a little
dangerous in terms of its practicability. But our human civilization has no
better option rather than adopt it for the time being so as to extend the life
of our civilization on this planet unless we invent of ways of how to use the resources self sufficiently
or develop an infinite source of the same.