Sustainability is a nice filler word. It sounds good without sounding overtly posh, it can be moulded to mean almost anything, and, in the absence of a definition, it creates the impression of righteousness without any real commitment to anything at all. Like the childish act of repeating a single word ad nauseum to see it loose all meaning, sustainability, alongside climate change, has become one of the great vacuous cliches of our day. Yet, sustainability is a concept far too important to leave at that! It's time to claim it back, for unsustainable means the forming of an irreversible rift between past and future, while sustainability holds the promise of being in control of our collective destiny.
My interest in sustainability has a rather parochial origin and focus. I am not haunted by visions of retreating icecaps, or coastal erosion in distant lands, nor am I obsessing about renewable energy, or have a bee in my bonnet about recycling. I don't deny the importance of such 'global' concerns, but my reflections on the meaning of, and my growing sense of a desperate need for, sustainable behaviour, stem from my ventures into the Scottish 'outdoors', my increasing awareness of the impact that I, and my fellow 'outdoor enthusiasts', are having, and the realisation that we have long crossed a threshold beyond which our combined intrusion translates into permanent damage. I make no apology for the parochial focus of my thoughts -- it is important to dream big, but at times it is necessary to think small to start executing those big dreams. »