Kevin // Overcoming obstacles

My latest stop has been to Taize, France where I have been living with 3,000 other people and spending a lot of time talking about spirituality, faith and the connection to sustainability. The religious community has been playing more and more of a significant role when it comes to making sustainable choices that better the lives of those around us, but as many people here at Taize have expressed, there is still a long way to go and lots of learning ahead.

One of the individuals I had the chance to meet was Kevin from Toronto, Canada. Kevin has been spending the summer traveling Europe as well and it just so happened that we both chose to stay at Taize the same week. We met while attending a workshop at Taize entitled “Economic strategies for sharing of resources.”

One of the biggest challenges for the sustainability movement, according to Kevin, is convenience. In Toronto, there are credit unions with stricter ethical standards for investing your money. But as much as Kevin supports their mission and the need for such groups, he still chooses to put his money in the larger banks, simply because they have more places to withdraw his money. Although less ethical, they are more convenient.

When it comes down to making that final decision of how to use or invest our money, it is often the simple things that form the biggest obstacles. Convenience is a huge obstacle to most people.

But sometimes, there are external forces impacting our decisions in addition to the intrinsic barriers. One of the biggest examples for Kevin has been the need to have the latest technology. Take TV’s as one example. Just within the last 3 years or so, we have seen the newest TV’s change from plasma, LCD, LED and now 3D. And each time a new technology comes out, we are encouraged to swap the ‘old’ TV we have for the latest, and apparently better, version. Our society is built on consumerism and being able to out-date a product as fast as possible.

But how often do we think about the waste that we are creating? The choices that we make, even as simple as the bananas we buy in the grocery store, all make an impact on the planet and people around us.

The simplest of tasks are significantly connected to the grandest of challenges.

To fully make the transition from our current practices to sustainable choices, we need to find ways to overcome those intrinsic and extrinsic barriers, and eventually start changing the larger system itself which encourages our current behavior and lifestyles.


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