Sustainable living might best be defined as a lifestyle that could, hypothetically, be sustained unmodified for many generations without exhausting any natural resources. The term can be applied to individuals or societies. Its adherents most often hold true sustainability as a goal or guide, and make lifestyle tradeoffs favoring sustainability where practical. Most often these tradeoffs involve transportation, housing, energy, and diet.
Voluntary simplicity is a lifestyle where the perquisites of a modern, industrialized society are left unexercised by choice for religious, spiritual, or existential reasons. The practices and motives overlap somewhat with the sustainability movement but usually have a greater focus on entertainment and recreation.
Self-sufficiency is the principle of consuming only those things produced by oneself or one's family. It is generally a stricter lifestyle than a sustainable lifestyle in that an effort is made to limit trade with others regardless of the sustainability of such trade.
Permaculture is a school of thought emphasising sustainability in land use and landscaping. Most often it emphasizes use of well-adapted plant materials that require few inputs.
Some people are opposed to mechanization and technology for any reason. Adherents of sustainable living, in contrast, are willing to accept appropriate technology.
Henry David Thoreau's works represent the earliest literature ("On Walden Pond" et al.) that specifically addresses the sustainable lifestyle, though the term "sustainable living" is not used in his works.
The Luddites raised issues of appropriate technology as early as the 1800s.
The publication of "Living the Good Life " by Helen (1904 – 1995) and Scott Nearing (1883 – 1983) in 1954 is the modern-day beginning of the sustainability movement. The book fostered the back to the land movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As the back to the landers realized the difficulty of copying the Nearing's lifestyle, they returned to more conventional lifestyles yet incorporated self-sufficiency where they could.
The publication of "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson in 1962 was another major milestone in the sustainability movement.
Last updated: 02-07-2005 12:50:37
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55