Header image  
You Can Make a Difference  
line decor
   Linda Markowitz: Sociology
line decor

Local Sustainability

There are lots of factors that keep us from engaging in sustainable acts. The main reason has to do with the fact that our government does not promote sustainability. Indeed, we have created an economy in which people's livelihoods and pensions DEPEND on people consuming more than they need and can afford. Corporations and governments are happy to tell us that a "healthy economy" depends on spending. So structurally, it is difficult to ignore the pressure to overconsume.

Furthermore, culturally, we live in a time in which showing others we have more and the latest provides us status. It's hard to imagine, but only 1/2 century ago, over-consumption was seen as vulgar and wasteful.

We also live in a time in which we value the concept "freedom." Freedom, of course, means different things to different people. For example, some might feel that freedom is the right to work in a meaningful job or have access to healthcare. In the U.S., however, freedom means the right to consume what we want, when we want it.

The way our economy is organized around consumption, however, has grave consequences that we often do not consider. For example, though the U.S. has 4% of the world's population, it contributes to 25% of the world's global warming problems. Furthermore, because we demand goods cheaply and abundantly, we are likely to overlook the slavery , human rights abuses, animal welfare and environmental costs that our consumption requires. While we care about others, we are less likely to act on our caring if it means we must give up the lifestyle we now follow.

Corporations + Lack of Government Intervention + Fashion Consciousness + "Freedom" = Overconsumption. The story is told well in the video, The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard.

Get scientific research to inform yourself about sustainability issues at the Energy Working Group.

MOVEMENT TO CHANGE: There are some people, however, who are trying slowly to change their own behavior AND the government's and this web-page is for those of you in the local area with that desire.

IF you would like to contribute to the information on this website, please let me know. I would love to find out what is happening: lmarkow@siue.edu



Carbon Footprint
Calculate your carbon footprint

SIUE Sustainability
Find out what's happening around SIUE Campus.

Madison County:
What's our Environmental Report Card?