Why we need connectivity to achieve sustainability     

Prof. Atul K. Shah points out that we have lost the holistic way of living and teaching. We have separated the mind, the body and the spirit. In this article, we discuss how connectivity contributes to sustainable development. 

by Maria Gharibyan

Connectivity thrives sustainability

In our fast-paced changing modern societies, we have become individualistic and have broken our sense with the simplest things in life: food, animals, nature and relationships. During Illicit Financial Flows, held on October 29, 2019 at the University of Antwerp, Atul K. Shah pointed out that we have lost the holistic way of teaching.

“We have separated education. We separated the mind, the body and the spirit. And even the body can be separated in biology, chemistry etc. What we need to learn from the extinction rebellion and the planet, is that when the planet is unhealthy, we are unhealthy. We need education to be holistic. We can’t say religion must be excluded from the education system because it is too dogmatic, because so can be science and other courses too.”

What prof. Atul K. Shah meant by this, is that we need to understand that all these things are connected. One field of study does not necessary exclude the other. On the contrary, seeing them as connected or interlinked might give a better understanding of it.

He noted as well that we are dealing with a mental health crisis. He explained that we have broken our families, communities, damaged the environment and that we are spending more time individualistically. “If you look at the older cultures of the world, how do they live, how do they give meaning to their lives. There is so much we can learn from them.”

@Mohanad Najah

Atul K. Shah, professor Accounting and Finance at the City University London.

Thus, we need to become aware of the fact that individualism can imply consumerism, while connectivity enforces sustainability. This being the reason why, social inclusiveness and a holistic view are crucial in achieving sustainability and that creating a sustainable world will be fostered by connectivity. We are connected when we share things (information, moments, time, food, etc.) with others. By sharing, we can create communities, which allows us to live more sustainably. Therefore, sustainability can only be realized when applying a strong community sense and a sense of connectivity. The latter doesn’t necessarily need to be visible. We can be or feel connected to nature, food, animals, the sufferings of others, etc. without having a direct attachment.

How can we contribute to sustainability in  our daily lives?

To understand the importance of sustainability and the vastness of it, we need to reconnect with the planet, animals, the food we eat, and especially the society we live in. Here, we discuss how we can create more connectivity and be more sustainable in our daily lives.

A sustainable community will have more impact than a group of people living sustainably in an individualistic way

First, we need to become more aware about our habits as consumers. How much do we use certain things/objects/foods? We need to ask ourselves whether the use is necessary. Making a grocery list beforehand, prevents buying too much. This way you’ll become more aware of what you’re buying, and you’ll notice that sometimes you get tempted to buy things you don’t need. Additionally, we need to pay attention to what we are buying. Where does the piece of clothing comes from? Is it made in a safe working environment? Is it made from recycled or upcycled material? The options nowadays are endless, so choose wisely! You’ll be surprised to discover how many versatile products exist. Becoming aware of our habits can also be done in a group. Why not start or join a group to exchange tips and motivate each other? Or you could join foodapps like ‘Too good to go’ in order to reduce waste.

Second, if we are aware of our consuming habits, how can we become aware of the lifespan and usages of objects or foods. Being creative with leftovers is a good example. You can make a wonderful quiche out of your dinner leftovers. A table could be given a second life, if you coat it. The same table could also be donated or sold. It is evident that these principles can be easily applied to clothing as well. You can recreate certain items, donate, exchange or sell. Nevertheless, working in group is more fun. Why not organize a clothing swap with friends?

Third, we need to build a stronger community. Perhaps this is the most important one out of the three, as it creates a sense of connectivity. Get to know your neighbors by inviting them over for a coffee. If you had a party or leftovers, you could bring them a plate. If you want to take things a step further, you could organize a potluck with the people living in your building or your street? You can also organize a recycling event in your neighborhood where products that aren’t used can be given away, exchanged or repaired.

When we see sustainablity in the light of connectiveness, we become more aware of our surroundings and the impact communities can have.  A sustainable community will have more impact than a group of people living sustainable in an individualistic way. Communities allow us to learn from each other and help each other. It fosters active participation of its members, sharing of knowledge and good practices.

To recapitulate ‘sharing is caring’, especially from a sustainable point of view.

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