Taking Care of what we have

September 29, 2011

*The content of these blogs are the personal reflections of the author and do not represent official Columban positions or statements

• I’m originally from Ghana and currently living in Gaithersburg, Maryland • I’m studying Economics at American University • I’m looking forward to finding out how my work at CCAO can help make life better for the poor

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a presentation on sustainability. This presentation was delivered by Erik Assadourian, a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute. He focused specifically on the need to “transform cultures from consumerism to sustainability”. Being taught as an Economics major, to think about growth as one of the major factors for well-being, I thought this idea was unrealistic since economic growth is needed to sustain our way of life. I was very curious to hear what Erik had to say. But after he had delved into the details of his presentation everything began to make sense to me. “We live on a finite planet and we cannot continue to consume infinitely” said Erick. Instead of buying new stuff it’s essential that we take care of what we already have.

I thought this idea was brilliant. This workshop changed how I looked at development in developing countries. I realized that developing countries should learn from the mistakes of developed nations and try to focus more on human development such improving sanitation, healthcare systems and education. Nonetheless, economic growth is still needed to generate some revenue and help fund projects such as building schools, hospitals and roads. But if we want to protect this planet, we would have to learn to consume less and take good care of what we already have. We as humans cannot do away with consumerism entirely but we can learn to consume at a level where it is not detrimental to the environment.