You’ve heard of the butterfly effect?
The concept that a tiny flap of wings can create huge and unpredictable turmoil at the other side of the world. This isn’t the typical definition for sustainability, but bear with me.
I suppose we could visualise the impact of that flap of wings as though there’s an enormous web expanding right around the globe. Everyone of us, and every object and animal is attached to it. So each action creates a tug or a push on a cord of that web, creating a chain reaction of ripples. Some gentle whispers, others devastating and far reaching.
I’m not vouching for the existence of the butterfly effect, but I do see that whether we like it or not, everything that we do affects the bigger picture to some degree. And some of those impacts are obvious and very much traceable when we start to consider them.
It’s uncomfortable to think that a simple action in your daily routine could be causing harm. Not everyone wants to take a close look at that, but since you’re reading this you’ve probably already given things a bit of consideration. And something I’ve noticed, is once we start to have a look there are actually some simple things that can make a big difference for the better.
The challenge in recognising how bad things have become is met with incredible hope.
Since everything is impacting everything else, that’s working in our favour too. A small change that benefits your health can improve the health of the environment also. And a healthier environment in turn helps your health. So you can see how quickly things can start to shift course. Lots of people making tiny changes really could have enormous power.
But What Is Sustainability?
“Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” That’s a definition I was offered on Google.
As awareness of our resource and environmental problems has grown, sustainability has become a bit of a buzzword. We use it to say ‘we’re taking responsibility’ and ‘doing the right thing’. But a problem of focusing on the word sustainability, is it’s all about benefits that will come in the future. And I think that detaches us somewhat from the full motivation of making change.
What I see at the heart of the desire to become sustainable though, can also be achieved and understood by visualising that big old web I described at the start. Everything is connected and affected by everything else. When we start to take on a mindset of looking for the links, we can begin to make change more beneficial and relevant to us in the here and now.
We can also define sustainability with phrases such as ‘maintaining an existing balance’ or ‘avoiding depleting our resources’.
Since things have become pretty depleted and out of balance already, I’m not actually convinced that being sustainable is quite what we’re striving for. But I’ll talk about that more down the line.
Whatever words we use to define our ambition for creating a better world, we’re well aware that changes are needed.
Making Improvements. With Everyday.
Big change is challenging and disruptive.
But as I mentioned earlier on, tiny changes can have a big impact. And tiny changes are not so tough to make.
Another benefit of making little shifts is that we see the results more quickly. We don’t need to design and prep for them extensively. There’s not that huge expectation and anticipation being built up behind them. I’m talking about little changes that we pop into our habits and try out today. And if it doesn’t fit well, then no harm done.
The biggest barrier to making differences such as these is inspiration. Giving them a try is often the easy part.
And that’s why I’m creating a new feature called ‘Winglewood Links’.
This will be the part of the website where we all get involved together to help identify and share the tiny changes that could have a big impact.
Not all improvements are in need of major technical breakthroughs. A lot can also be achieved by taking on a more simplistic mindset.
I’m working on the functionality at the moment, but I’m hopeful that Mk1 will be up and running very soon. And at that point I’m going to need your thoughts and input to get this thing working. So please keep an eye out for an update.
If you’re new to Winglewood, then you can learn more about what we’re doing by having a quick watch of the intro animation here.
Or, explore the idea that an open mind could be the answer for making big improvements for ourselves and the environment.