Updated: Aug 14
Early in 2013, I noticed that people were talking about environmental sustainability. The trend impacted my lifestyle greatly. I discontinued my printed album services for my wedding photography clients because everything about the printed albums was made of plastic. I started commuting to work by bike at least 3 days per week with 50 km daily. When we discussed sustainability in 2013, conversations were mostly focused on plastics and fossil fuel emissions. I was happy to see that the eco-friendly trend was growing — the negative impacts of fossil fuels and plastic pollution were becoming known. By the end of 2013, we humans managed to emit 35.75 billion tonnes of dirty greenhouse gases.
By the end of 2013, we humans managed to emit 35.75 billion tonnes of dirty greenhouse gases.
I continued to live what I like to call an “eco-conscious lifestyle,” like a growing number of people were doing. I learned that in 2016 we managed to emit 36.16 billion tonnes of earth-heating gases, despite our new environmental sustainability efforts.
In 2016 we managed to emit more earth-heating gases than the previous year.
People, including myself, continued to talk about environmental sustainability. I was exposed to new efforts and ideas like the zero-waste movement, bike-to-work campaigns, etc. My wife Monica and I even had our own zero-waste eco-friendly wedding, too. Yet in 2017, together, we managed to emit 36.77 billion tonnes of dirty gases.
Once again in 2017, we managed to emit more earth-heating gases than the previous year.
A growing number of people have embraced an environmentally conscious lifestyle– shouldn’t we have reduced those hot gases? What is wrong? Why are these numbers increasing year after year? I wondered, are we really understanding the definition of the word “sustainability” correctly, or is it being wrongly used by a common man like me?
Hundreds of scientists, scholars and subject matter experts teamed up to create Project Drawdown. Paul Hawken and the Project Drawdown team answered my question. They expanded the meaning of the phrase “environmental sustainability” and ranked each of our actions based on their effect on Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
Suddenly, my knowledge of environmental sustainability increased from 2 solutions to 100 solutions. Wow! I was amazed. Soon after, I realized that this comprehensive list of solutions came with its very own challenge. Focusing on 100 solutions is overwhelming, at least to me. I learned from many successful entrepreneurs that when there are 10 tasks to do in a day, to focus only on the first 2 or 3 high-priority tasks because I only have limited time available. When I focus on 20% to 30% of the work each day and am still able to get my life and my business moving forward, peacefully and happily.
So, with this knowledge of what worked well for me, I applied the same concept to the solutions suggested by the Project Drawdown team. What I found was very interesting: there are 5 solutions which are so efficient that they can actually solve 30% of the problems. How cool is that? I call these solutions Truly Sustainable Solutions. Our team at Vyugam is on a mission to help social entrepreneurs and change-makers who are already or willing to work towards Truly Sustainable Solutions.
The 5 Truly Sustainable Solutions: 1. To save and grow forest 2. To make plant-rich food easily accessible by everyone 3. To infuse sustainability in education 4. To manage population explosion with proper access to birth control and sex education information 5. To reduce food waste
So I founded Earth & Associates. At E&A, we consider these 5 solutions to be “truly sustainable” because they are incredibly effective and actionable by almost every one of us on this planet — and they can be acted upon starting today! The other 95 solutions are actionable too, but sometimes they involve severe government movements or business and technological innovations. The 95 other solutions are less effective compared to the 5 we are focused on.
The 5 Truly Sustainable Solutions will have a positive impact on the other 95 solutions within a short period of time, too.
While reducing fossil fuels and plastic-free movements are not included in our top five list, I would still like to mention that they are significant changes to make in our lives. These initiatives first introduced me and many others to the realm of climate crisis solutions. This earlier movement inspired much of my own research, including learning about Project Drawdown.
How can you help to implement Truly Sustainable Solutions in your life, and your community on a global scale? My team and I at Earth & Associates would love to hear from you and keep the sustainability conversation going.