When I was speaking to students at a small liberal arts college recently about sustainability, I was trying to highlight that sustainable solutions require a different approach than solutions that aim to fix one particular problem. An example might be trying to solve climate change by simply reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. If we isolate problems in that way without consideration for the effects beyond greenhouse gas reduction we will no doubt have many unintended consequences to deal with.
Sustainability requires solving for many problems at the same time. Yes we need to reduce greenhouse gases, but we also need to reduce income inequality, improve access to healthy affordable food, and provide livelihoods that improve security for all. These are some of the solutions needed today. When our goal broadens or is redefined, the solutions begin to look different.
The new The Story of Solutions just released by the folks that brought us The Story of Stuff, brings that home nicely in this 9 minute video. One might quibble with statements here and there, but the overall thrust is right on target. Redefining the goals of a solution redirects the energies in crafting the solutions.
So to is a 3 minute video the Food and Agricultural Organization released last month along with an insightful report on global food waste.
To see the Food Waste Footprint video click here
Of course, as New York Times food writer, Mark Bittman wrote a couple weeks back, in "How to Feed the World", reducing food waste while an essential component to feeding the world's family is not in itself sufficient. But as he reports, sustainable solutions will require solving not just for production, but labor, culture, distribution, and other factors that call for a reshaping of our food systems in an increasingly crowded world.
I am encouraged by the many, many groups in places all around the planet that are working together to develop solutions that are community based. Examples from two websites that I've recently stumbled into might whet your appetite. Visit -
Grassroots Economic Organizing or
Community Economies Collective