What are the roots of sustainability and why is it important if we want to envision a truly carbon neutral future?
In the political Comedy web series, The North Pole, there is a scene in which the protagonist, Marcus, approaches a group of men barbecuing in the street listening to hip hop music with a bag of hot Cheetos in his hand. Shortly after they start chatting, the men start to lecture Marcus for his poor food choices. "Look at what you're eating," one of the characters proclaims, " I can't even read half of the stuff on the ingredient list."
When asked about this scene specifically the director Yvan Iturriaga explained that he specifically wanted to include this scene in the show because there is a disconnect in our societies perception about plant based diets and lifestyles practicised solely in wealthy, predominantly white parts of society, when in fact plant based diets, environmental activism and sustainability have always been deeply rooted in urban centers indigenous cultures and even a mainstay in parts of hip hop culture. In fact, the Wu Tang clan's RZA has been touting the benefits of veganism for over twenty years ( well before it became cool). It was veteran civil rights activist Curtis Hayes Muhammad, who said: “Recognize that land and food have been used as a weapon to keep black people oppressed,” he said, while sitting at our dinner table months earlier. “Recognize also that land and food are essential to liberation for black people.” Promoting black communities to create their own gardens, control their food systems and ensure a healthy diet.
Whether it's been food or sustainability in relation to products we've used, the truth is, the roots of sustainability have always been linked to ancient cultures and traditions that were in place thousands of years before America was even a country. So many products that we call "sustainable" today, have always been mainstay products and ingredients in India, throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia.