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Basic Course 2: How Do I Act Sustainably?

"What can I do to change the situation!", is often the resigned reaction to global problems like climate change or poverty. The answer that the concept of sustainability offers is that "there is certainly something you can do!" In fact, you must do something if you take me seriously." Because sustainability does not just comprise - as if often to be heard - all levels from the global to the local, sustainability specifically and above all relates to the individual level: Without the effort of each and every individual, a change in direction towards sustainable development will never succeed.

"The future is the time in which you regret what you could have done today and did not do."
[Léon Tolstoi]

There are many starting points for sustainable behaviour. We want to consider several of them in somewhat more detail in Basic Course 2 in the form of examples. In Basic Course 3 we present the most successful practical implementation of the sustainability concept in the form of Local Agenda 21. It forms an excellent starting point for acting sustainably. Everyone can initiate the agenda process or participate in an existing agenda.

Several of the possibilities for action named in Diagram 3 are self-explanatory. Of course it is better (for yourself and the environment) if you ride a bicycle and do not drive a car. Other are clear on first sight, but a closer look is also worth while. This applies to saving energy, as the following example shows.

The difference in energy consumption between the best saucepan (a good saucepan with a lid) and the worst (poor quality saucepan without a lid) amounts to 350 percent! And this deals with just one aspect of many. Reasonable behaviour on a day-to-day basis could save a great deal of electricity. What could come into mind here for example are energy-saving bulbs, thinking about turning off lights when you go out of a room and the amount you heat. The dimension of the problem concerned here is clarified by the following example from Germany.

"Stand-by switches on an ever-increasing number of electronic goods increase convenience; meaning that you do not need to get up all the time to switch the TV on and off. This amount of electricity consumed to no purpose wastes 20.5 billion kilowatts of electricity. By way of comparison: The city of Berlin consumes 14 million kilowatt hours in the course of a year."

[Source: Sabine Ferenschild/Thomas Hax-Schoppenhorst, "Weltkursbuch. Globale Auswirkungen eines "zukunftsfähigen Deutschlands", (World Course Book. Global Effects of a 'Sustainable Germany), Misereor Basel amongst others 1998, p. 14]

"Average speeds, which aim towards a softer society, shorter distances, which strengthen local economies, intelligent services, which replace disposable goods and selective consumerism which makes do with fewer goods: these are all milestones in the transformation towards a society fit for the future."
[Source: Wolfgang Sachs, "Nach uns die Zukunft. Der globale Konflikt um Gerechtigkeit und Ökologie" (After us the Future. The Global Conflict on Justice and Ecology)., Frankfurt/Main, 2nd Edition 2003. p. 97]

Further sections within the framework of Basic Course 2


Fairtrade: A trademark exists for fairly traded products. If you buy these products, you do not just get good quality, but can also be sure that the producers are not being exploited... [... more]


Find Out, Get Involved, Support Initiatives: There are a variety of organisations and initiatives worldwide working in aid of sustainable development. We cannot present all of them to you here, but would like to draw your attention to several... [... more]


Sustainable Agriculture: An ever-increasing number of farmers are changing over to biodynamic cultivation worldwide today. On the road to a world society capable of survival in the future much is particularly dependent upon the production of food stuffs. [... more]


Sustainable Consumerism: The fundamental change in consumer behaviour counts as one of the most important requirements on the road to a sustainable way of living. However an extremely deep-seated and difficult challenge is concerned here. [... more]


Sustainable Tourism: The growth sector tourism is presently developing in exactly the opposite direction to sustainability. Problematic trends such as long-distance travel with aeroplanes, all-inclusive packages and cruises demonstrate the highest growth rate. [... more]


The Vision of a Solar Age: Using renewable energies counts as one of the most important requirements on the road to sustainable development. This vision embeds the transition to solar energy into a new model of prosperity... [... more]


Coordinates of the New Welfare Programme

"Slower, less, better, more beautiful"

[Hans Glauber,]

"The economy of a good life consists of a combination of measured consumption and immaterial goods compatible to nature."

[Toblacher Theses 1997]

... Continue to Basic Course 3: How Does a Local Agenda 21 Function?

[Author: Ragnar Müller]

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SubjectsHuman Rights  I  Examples  I  Democracy  I  Parties  I  Europe  I  Globalisation  I  United Nations  I  Sustainability

Methods:    Teaching Politics    II    Peace Education    II    Methods


This online service on the subject of political education was developed by agora-wissen, the Stuttgart-based Gesellschaft für Wissensvermittlung über neue Medien und politische Bildung (GbR) (Partnership for the Exchange of Information Using New Media and Political Education). Please contact us with your questions or comments. Translation from German into English by twigg's Übersetzung deutsch-englisch