The premier environmental nonprofit shows the ways to transform our consumer culture into a culture centered on sustainability.
In this year's volume, the D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute think-tank considers, in several dozen pieces, how "cultures of consumption" can be transformed into "cultures of sustainability." Many ideas take inspiration from diverse traditions: religions can be called upon to embrace their own deepest values and renounce materialism, while establishing new holidays, rituals and taboos incorporating strategies for sustainability (Earth Day, "Green funerals," new days of fasting, etc.); practices honoring elders as transmitters of ancient wisdom can be spread beyond regions where they still thrive (Africa, India, etc.); thousand-year-old Asian farming methods can be revived. Ideas for restructuring education include replacing the "Three Rs" with the "Seven Rs" ("reduce, reuse, recycle, respect, reflect, repair, and responsibility") and emphasizing "environmental education" in higher learning. The largest-scale changes include shifting societal goals from "maximizing growth of the market economy to maximizing sustainable human well being"; ensuring that the burden of reduced production falls on the wealthiest, not the poorest; and building sustainable cities like Vauban, a 5,000-household German community that uses 100 percent renewable energy. Though many solutions in this visionary volume require a pie-in-the-sky "whole Earth community" legal system prioritizing "the right to life" over "the right to conduct business," it should give leaders and laypeople much to consider.
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