The scope of personal sustainability can span from sustaining your current standard of living to radically adjusting your lifestyle to become a “one planet” household. The journey of personal sustainability begins with understanding what sustainability is to you – both in definition and vision, and then implementing practices or behaviours within your lifestyle to achieve your vision for sustainability.
Your sustainability journey will evolve just as your values and opinions evolve through life experience. Once you understand your scope of sustainability, it will enable you to commence the journey of decision making, goal setting, and self fulfilment in walking the talk of sustainability.
Setting goals enables you to assess your progress and “check in” with yourself. Goal setting is a crucial part of the sustainability journey with the end goal being your sustainability vision, and intermediate goals being the essential skills, tools and experiences you gather along your sustainability journey to achieve your vision. An essential component of goal setting is measuring your progress to ascertain how you are progressing towards achieving your goals. Similarly, your goals need to be specific, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART). You do not want to set yourself up to fail – once you have set your goals, the journey of sustainability should be enriching, not frustrating!
You should consider setting goals across various aspects of your life including spiritual, community, relationships, cultural, and personal, and articulating them in a goals matrix that can be kept handy for daily reference. The categories for goal setting should be reflective of the scope of your sustainability vision. Addressing multiple categories will enable you to create balance amongst these aspects of your life.
The timeframe for achieving your goals could be set on a daily, weekly, monthly, biannual, annual, 5 year, or 10 year basis for regular review and assessment.
Effective Sustainability Strategy
Being effective in your sustainability journey involves being proactive within your circle of influence, overlapping with aspects of time management, goal setting, visioning and value setting. We have been inspired by the work of Stephen Covey with the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. The 7 habits study provides a step-by-step strategy and framework that supports the sustainability journey:
- Habit 1: Be Proactive
- Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
- Habit 3: Put First Things First
- Habit 4: Think Win-Win
- Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
- Habit 6: Synergize
- Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Sustainable Behavioural Practices – Ecological Footprint
If your sustainability vision spans to ecological sustainability, ecological footprint calculators can be used to measure your impact and provide an insight in to the aspects of your lifestyle that have the highest ecological impact! Once you understand what these are, you can implement practices within your lifestyle to reduce your footprint. EPA Victoria has published an ecological footprint calculator and website, with further information and case studies on how others have reduced their ecological footprint.
“Ecological footprint measures how much biologically productive land and water a population (an individual, an organisation, a city, a country, or all of humanity) requires to support current levels of consumption and waste production.
Australia's Ecological Footprint in the Living Planet Report 2008 was 7.8 global hectares (gha) per person. This is 2.8 times the average global Footprint (2.7 gha), and well beyond the level of what the planet can regenerate on an annual basis - an equivalent of about 2.1 global hectares per person per year. For example, the average Victorian needs 6.8 global hectares of land to sustain his or her lifestyle. If everyone on the planet lived like Victorians, we would need more than four Earths to support us.
Measuring our Ecological Footprint can help us identify what contributes the most to our Footprint, and how resources could be used more efficiently in order to secure our own wellbeing, as well as that of the rest of humankind and the planet - both now and in the future.” EPA Victoria
Managing and minimising your ecological footprint begins with exercising your right of consumer choice. Choosing locally produced and manufactured goods, choosing materials that can be recycled, choosing to take the bus as opposed to your car. Making these simple choices each day and using your definition of sustainability to inform your choices will help you on your journey to walk the talk of sustainability.
Go to Sustainability Hub