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Sustainable Living and Business

Don’t get me wrong. I am not into full sustainable living…yet. I am a strong advocate but not yet a strong practitioner. Adopting a sustainable lifestyle demands complex discipline and a strong will. It is the most difficult life-changing decision I will have to make in my entire life. If ever I would choose to make good sense of it if at all, sustainable living means giving up on so many comfortable habits of the modern world. Am I ready? At my age now, am I prepared to surrender myself to the more earthly desires of a safe, natural, and sustainable environment?

My intuition tells me that I’m not ready for sustainable living, and I don’t believe my family, communities, and the organizations I’m involved with are either. They’re not just concerned about their personal ‘well-being,’ but also about their business, livelihood, and survival. It’s a common misconception that sustainability and business are at odds. In fact, if it’s not good for business, it’s not sustainable.

Like all others, our Mariners schools will surely collapse financially, and we shall be the recipients of protests and unforgivable abominations from students, their parents, our faculty, and employees. The schools should be a haven of learning, at least ideally, with conducive ventilation, preferably air-conditioned rooms, laboratories, and facilities. The school buses and vans will continue to ply the roads to ferry the students and faculty every day to go about their programs.

Only recently, didn’t the Department of Education (DepEd) issue memorandum one after the other calling for the suspension of classes because of the rising severe heat wave all over the country? People, including students, are told to go home and flock to air-conditioned supermarkets and malls to escape from the heat outside. So, whoever says that asynchronous or suspending classes means we shall be protecting our students and teachers from the unhealthy heat is not giving a completely accurate picture. The students are adding to the increased use of air-conditioning in commercial stores!

My food and health stores and members of our own family homes have complained about the frequent power outages. Even with power fluctuations, the demand is to make everyone comfortable as much as possible. No, they say, cutting off the use of the air-conditioning units is not an option. What does sustainable living mean? It means radically changing one’s lifestyle and habits regarding transportation, energy consumption, and diet. It means I won’t drive or ride in a car daily to travel, bring myself to the market, or visit my friends and the communities. It means natural modes of conveyance like using a bike or any four-wheeled vehicle - solar powered or one that does not use gasoline or diesel that burns fossil fuels and harms the environment. This is to minimize the use of fossil fuels because it is a non-renewable source of energy, and its extraction destroys the planet. Using non-renewable energy releases tons of CO2 emissions - like those from a car or methane from cows -- are a significant cause of climate change, of global warming. Keeping the global average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius will avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Living simply and sustainably is good business.

Scientists and climate change advocates say with much authority that living simply and sustainably is critical to reducing the adverse effects of climate change. Now, here is the catch. A plant-based diet like preceding meat is one of the best ways to start living a sustainable life because growing animals need land, water, and other resources like food.

Last month, our son came home, and with my family, I took time off to immerse myself in nature, sun, water, forest bathing, and dining at healthy food stores. I also took the occasion to revive my natural drink concoctions, which I started in the late 1990s, Kamjus and Picujus, which became an instant hit in school and among my colleagues. The juices made from fresh veggies, creatively blended, are a happy and healthy alternative to sodas, colas, and acidic drinks. Like E-Sense, the natural stress reliever from peppermint, lemongrass, pili, and citronella essential oils, they are good business. Combined with the tasty JaimEliza plant-based burger, the package is a clincher. With the Social Enterprises Development (SED) project, sustainable living offers the option that sustainable living can become a good business.

Developing sustainable and resilient communities is better said than done. It should not only be a slogan. Visiting the Inarihan Farm Resort and the Panicuason Hot Spring Resort at the foot of the Isarog Mountains is an eye-opener. Dining at Green Earth, with its organic plant-based menu, and the Cafe Rosa Garden, with its flower and veggie salads, is an exhilarating experience. Inarihan Farm Resort is a gateway to “unwind, relax and reconnect with nature” with its five hectares of land planted with tall, beautiful 3,000 mahogany trees lined up like our snappy maritime cadets ready to battle at the military parade. Many people have become regular patrons to savor and enjoy nature. It is also good business, and it is here where the government can provide the much-needed support and assistance.

Sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reuse, recycle, and reduce the use of Earth’s natural resources sustainably. It is a commitment that does not happen overnight. Next week, Engineer Bien will install solar panels at our store. At the Tabang Bikol Movement building, community-based organizations enjoy using the off-grid solar panels from DOST in their citronella oil distillation and other social enterprises. It is a good beginning. When sustainable living becomes income-generating, the benefits are immeasurable, including a safe and healthy environment for future generations.


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