The paradigm of economics and its emphasis has created the problem of blinded consumption of the masses. What we consume and how we consume leads to an impact on people and environment, often at distance places which cannot be seen by naked eyes or felt without knowing.
The consumer and producer are distant in time and space. The cause and effect are distant in time and space. Hence, in order to behave in an “eco-friendly” manner there has to be a wave of fashion about it or an element of guilt, for the masses to follow. Some examples – Low Impact Denim – Low water, energy , 8 bottles for 1 jeans – made out of progress (feel good about it, feel good in it), save water save earth, “one touch to change the future” (new air conditioners) etc.
But this approach only suffices to fix the emergent behavior patterns and not the paradigm. And the behavior can only be as good as it is allowed to be.
At a deeper level in order for sustainability to kick in and public/individual behaviors to change the blindness needs to be removed and proper incentives need to be designed.
If this is already happening with corporate and governments becoming more socially, environmentally responsible then why is Alternate Energy prices more expensive than Mainstream energy?? Why a low impact denim costs more than a “High” impact denim?? Why for saving water no one gets a reward?? Why are 5 star air conditioners more expensive than 2 star air conditioners??
Because it is a business fit. Sustainability is the new wave of business and economy. It is a proposition which gets transformed into a product/commodity which creates a brand and initiates a new wave of consumption – A responsible behavior or low guilt behavior.
If we dream of having a sustainable society and culture, then there needs to be rewards for changing public/individual behavior patterns which move towards more just and sustainable consumption and production. Not subsidize but incentivize has to be the mantra. And this does not include carbon credits!!! Because they allow non emitting entities to emit and pay for it.
The consumer and producer have to come close in time and space. The impacts of production have to be felt by the consumer and vice versa. This is possible if they live in close vicinity and the planetary boundaries are shrunk at a local level. There is an element of localization, where we produce using local resources, consume and then recycle within the local ecosystem. All ends of the economy are tied up, in a closed loop system. What goes come back and in relatively quick time. The feedback received becomes evidence of our learning. Behaviors start changing.
This also provides a possibility to have a proxy or actual indicator of the environmental footprint of the combined lifestyles (may be of a community). This might help begin a conscious journey towards a sustainable movement towards sustainability.
The above theory needs proof of concept and for that we should start small, very small. A model at local level will enable us to test our assumptions and crystallize our understanding before launching an assault at national or global level. Ultimately it is the small unseen, unheard movements at nano level which will do the front-running in our ultimate quest for sustainable change.
Till that time, lets keep Dreaming!!!