Sustainability, by definition, means living our present lives in a way that doesn't degrade the quality of life for the future. It aims at making better choices today, so we can keep sustaining (an improving) life as we know it.
Natural resources and their depletion have been a huge part of the sustainability conversation because a lot of damage is being done to the environment every day and the perils are great.
However, there are other resources too, that we can apply the sustainability mindset to. These aren't traditional/ visible resources like minerals, water or electricity, but a better use of these too, improves our quality of life for the future.
Remember, sustainability isn't just about using lesser, but using better. We don't have to reduce consumption blindly but optimise it to get the best out of every resource and reduce wastage.
Here are 5 resources you can use sustainability starting today.
Like most natural resources, time is limited. Wasted time comes with an opportunity cost that is often paid by our future selves.
Optimizing how we use time doesn't mean one must be a workaholic. On the contrary, it means we should take enough breaks so we aren't too tired or burnt out to use our time efficiently.
Time is also a shared resource. Our actions might lead to time wastage for others. So simple things like coming to meetings on time, minimizing procrastination, working together to get jobs done faster are all ways of using time sustainably.
Our energy and ability to do mental and physical work is also an important resource. This energy to some extent is unlimited, but must be refilled regularly and used with care.
While energy isn't as easy to track as time, it is important to be mindful of it. This means planning your day and work better, so you can use not just yours, but others' energy mindfully too.
The question to ask is - Is this the best way to do it, and the best use of my efforts?
Mental and physical well-being is a resource that has a huge impact on maintaining or improving your quality of life. It isn't a limited resource but it depletes if not taken care of.
From getting medical care to simple things like journaling, having enough me-time, exercising and meditating are ways one can ensure this resource isn't being abused. Health allows us to make better use of all other resources like time and energy.
Social well-being stands for our place in society and relationships with others. It's not a traditional resource but just like the natural environment, it's important to have a conducive social environment.
A healthy social environment is one where we are respected, cared for and heard. This is one of the more complex resources to understand and work towards.
Work, family, even social media, are all facets of social well-being. Eg. Trolling and shaming on the internet are practices that abuse this resource.
It is also a heavily shared resource. When we misbehave we don't just disturb our social well-being but others' too. Hence, an individual must strive towards creating environments that are inclusive, respectful and helpful.
Like in any ecosystem, all these resources are interlinked. Poor use of time, can lead to a lack of time for exercise and paying attention to health. Poor social environments can dampen our energy levels and even our mental well-being. But a single positive change rings improvement across the spectrum too.
As we step into a new year, after a year that has made us grateful for smaller things, a sustainable mindset can be very helpful. More than anything, sustainability encourages us to consider things we usually take for granted, as a resource we are responsible for. A diminishing resource that requires care and optimal use. It in turn forces us to think not just of the present, but the future.
Luckily, these changes are easy to include in your everyday. Pick your starting point, and use your personal resources sustainably, this new year.