Main Attributes

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Values guide actions: How often do we find ourselves making choices that run counter to our core values? Because we’re always being told how to act, live and consume, few people have a strong sense of what really matters to them, what they personally believe in, and what they consider right and wrong. Living Lightly involves making a concerted effort to understand and reconnect with our own values and priorities, to seek to better align our lives with those values, and to promote values-based living, planning and decision-making in our relationships with other people and groups.

Positive vision: When you imagine and clarify a positive, even idyllic vision of where you want to go, in as much detail as you can manage, then you have something to work towards, to use as a measuring stick and to keep you energized and focused. A vision should not be confused with a plan. The world is full of plans that will give us more of what we have now, but very few compelling and detailed visions of where we might wish to go.

Eco-centrism: Assuring — and restoring — the health of the planet must be the point of departure for all decisions and actions, as opposed to anthropo-centrism, or the view that human needs must take precedence or be given highest priority.

Equity and fairness: If you divide the planet’s resources (renewable and recyclable) by the total population of the planet, and divide the waste-processing ability of the planet by that same population, you come to a figure that might be called an equitable or fair “quota” or “allotment” for each person. Those of us whose lifestyles and livelihoods are built on more than that quota cannot be considered to be leading fair and just lives — not when others are living and dying with inadequate access to resources, and suffering from environmental, social and economic consequences of conditions they did little to create. Living Lightly requires that all humans recognize the need for greater equity and fairness, and strive to make this a reality.

Renewal/restoration: Living Lightly is about more than just protecting what we have left. Our lives are full of opportunities to renew and restore natural systems as well as social systems.

Aiming for all good, not just less bad: What is the fun in making things less bad, when you can set a target that is all good? To be less bad is to accept the status quo, to believe that humans are inherently poor designers. This is a failure of imagination. On the other hand, aiming for “all good” is to believe that whatever we do or make can be functional, efficient, flexible, healthy, durable and elegant.

Cradle-to-grave thinking and design: Products and processes can be redesigned to eliminate the concept of “waste,” which is typically manifested as pollution, inefficient and incomplete use of resources, garbage that must be disposed of (at a cost), as well as the treatment of some humans and many others species as dispensable or of lesser value. The cradle-to-cradle approach attempts to retain the value of all materials and living beings by treating them as inherently valuable, and as resources to be sustained and treasured for their current as well as their future value.

Lead yourself: You are your own leader. You can decide best for yourself what is right for you, and you can demonstrate leadership and initiative to others in large and very public ways, or in small and more private ways.

Power is yours to use — responsibly: We all have power, if we choose to use it. We lose our power by letting others make decisions for us, by choosing not to decide, act or speak up and be heard. Power is accompanied by a responsibility to recognize its impact and to use it wisely and carefully.

Life affirming: To Live Lightly is to affirm and celebrate human dignity and spirit, and to affirm that we are more than consumers and utilitarian creatures. We are also lovers of beauty, spiritual pursuits and connections. We are less when we extinguish life. We are more when we preserve and encourage life and vitality.

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