Life is complicated, sometimes we just need to break down all of the information that bombards us, as well as our tasks, chores, and all those nagging thoughts of what we need to improve. This is my list, created in five minutes, of things I want to improve for personal sustainability.

1. Life balance

Any change you make is only as good as the life you live outside of that decision. Previous generations knew how to work, and they knew how to have fun and enjoy family and community time. This is a skill that many of us need to relearn. The simple joy of working with your hands and building something meaningful can transform the outlook of a white collar worker.

The interior of a Loblaws supermarket in Toronto
Image via Wikipedia

2. Transportation choices and options

Walking is good, cycling is great, driving should become our last choice for the short trips we make to the supermarket, pharmacy or other local store. This summer I intended to get a cargo trailer for my bike, it didn’t pan out, but this is still high on my list for sustainability. As the children get older, riding bikes as a family to get groceries or visit friends will be a sustainable option, particularly with a trailer on one of the adult bikes.

3. Urban Farm and Land Management

With just over 2/3 of an acre to look after, and only a portion of it cultivated for fruit, grainsĀ  and vegetables, this is one of the biggest challenges we face. Reducing the frequency of mowing and watering only key areas of lawn, planning a system for collecting rainwater and greywater, continuing compost and nutrient management as seasonal opportunities arise, planning a four season harvest schedule, implementing the SPIN Farming methodology, and participating in formal and informal harvest rescue opportunities are all ongoing projects in our household.

4. Home Energy Efficiency

The house we live in is over 40 years old. Some renovations had been undertaken prior to our purchase of the property, but there are still inefiiciencies that can be addressed through time and technology. These projects will improve the summer and winter comfort of our home, and obviously reduce our heating expenses as well.


5. Diet and Consumption

Eating meat is one of the worst things one can possibly do for the planet. We need to get back to a pre-oil/industrialized diet that is based on grains, pulses, starchy vegetables and the fruits of the season. For me, this actually means learning to cook and enjoy some of these foods, and discovering which ones will grow locally, or within a reasonable distance of Castlegar. Overall, to be sustainable, we need to focus our lives on less stuff. Less gadgets, less toys, less power tools, less vehicles, less meat, less packaging. Less.


What challenges do you face on the path to sustainability?

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.