Discover why our work is so urgent
OneEarth Living highlights the links between who we are, what we buy, where we live, what we make, what we trade and how we live together.
We envision a democratic world where basic needs for all are met, where everything we touch is sustainable and part of the Earth’s cycle, where product labeling is not necessary, where waste is a resource, where everybody consumes their fair earthshare, and where we live in balance with nature.
We define one earth living as
Living within the ecological means of our Earth
While advancing wellbeing and thriving
We also call this sustainable living.
You may have heard this by other names, including by our partners who advance sustainable living solutions:
This is more than a climate challenge: We are in ecological overshoot.
Ecological overshoot is when more people use more resources and produce more waste than the Earth can sustain. We are running an ecological deficit – our footprint globally is too big.
- Our ecological footprint measures the impact we have on the Earth.
- Our carbon footprint measures a part of that impact – our total emissions of greenhouse gasses heating up our planet.
Climate change is just one symptom of ecological overshoot.
Others include biodiversity loss, deforestation, overfishing, ocean acidification, pollution and pandemics. By reversing overshoot and restoring our life support systems, we address all these symptoms.
There is solid evidence that we are on a collision course with our planet’s life support systems.
We are motivated by the urgency to act quickly on the climate, nature and justice crises. We are inspired by the growing movement to redesign our societies to be in balance with nature.
This is not ‘business as usual’ by other means.
Conventional solutions aimed at policy change and technological innovation are not enough. ‘Net zero’ emissions and other proposed solutions and mainstream attempts to solve climate change require massive investment in high-tech ‘non-solutions,’ including renewable electricity and unproved carbon capture and storage technologies. This approach does not reverse climate change and worsens overshoot.
We need “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented action in all areas of our lives”.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – 2018
Sustainable living: a key solution
We can only reach our goals by tackling consumption and the way we live.
Lifestyles, consumption and behavioural changes are tied to 3/4 of emissions and help to shift demand, not just transform supply of material and energy.
Globally, we need to reduce the total human ecological footprint by about 40%. Remember that even North Americans lived happily on half the energy per capita in the 1960s that we use today.
Equity is central. Consumption is unequal within countries and between countries.
The emissions from our daily actions rise sharply with household income. As Tim Gore and Oxfam reveal in Confronting Carbon Inequality (2020), the top 10% of earners generate around 48% of global emissions, with the top 1% contributing 15%. This is more than double that of the poorest 50%, which contributes only around 7% of global emissions. Transforming our ways of living needs to be fair.
We need to talk about population. Overshoot means that Earth cannot long sustain even the present population at average material standards. Educating girls, women’s empowerment over their reproductive choices and family planning enable more financial security and agency.
What does sustainable living look like?
Some areas of our life have bigger impacts than others.
The ways we drive our cars and fly, how we heat and power our homes, and the decisions we make around our diets and wasted food together account for 60% of our lifestyle carbon footprints. Focusing on these emissions hotspots can guide where we place our efforts, across different aspects of our everyday lives.
Our lives are shaped by our context and are changing over time.
We need systems change to shape the policies, infrastructures, technologies, institutions that create the conditions for sustainable living. There are great opportunities to support sustainable living practices during major life changes (becoming a parent, going to school, immigrating, retiring).
We are asking ‘how do we want to live’?
The good news is that one earth lives are also better lives.
We don’t need to have high-emitting lives in order to be happy. In fact, the World Happiness Report reveals that happiness and wellbeing are actually connected to our health, close social connections, sense of belonging and trust, education, security, and purpose.
This is about shifting what we value as a culture.
It’s about the everyday aspirations that we set for ourselves about what matters in life. The more we see changes happening around us – people like us living low-carbon ways of living – the quicker we adopt that change ourselves. Instead of excessive materialism and its negative impacts on wellbeing, health, equity, and justice, we nurture care and reconnection with ourselves, our communities and nature.
Who takes action?
Sustainable living is a joint responsibility of all actors.
Shaping our cultural and physical context so that all of us can live sustainably requires a society-wide effort.
This is about societal change, not just individual action.
We can’t just blame individuals for our ecological mess and expect them to bear the burden of fixing it. Governments and businesses bear the greatest responsibility. They create the policy and market context within which individual behaviour changes are possible at scale.
We need collective solutions to this collective problem.
Many communities already live sustainably today – and more transformation is already happening!
Our cultural leaders are the communities that are already living ethics of care and in harmony with nature. Shifts in power are required to strengthen the influence and impact of these leading communities. There is momentum around share and repair shops, communities of intentional living, moms organizing to transform their communities, youth driving plant-based diets and more.
People power is powerful.
There is a hunger to contribute personally to the climate and ecological crisis.
Actions add up as more people adopt them and join with others to make them available, convenient, affordable and desirable. Collectively, people are taking action to push for larger changes by government and business.
Learn how we’re joining forces with others to boldly tackle this challenge and opportunity.