Ecological Literacy – a basic Life Skill

Ecological Literacy is a basic life-skill that every human being on our planet should be supported to develop and is part of our personal development. Ecology as a science is about the relationships between organisms and their natural environment. Over the last two hundred years through the process of industrialization people’s relationship with their natural environment changed drastically. This change process, in large driven by technological advancements, also changed people’s experience of the role and purpose for our natural environment. With new technological advancements people were able to increase agricultural productivity, which resulted in large population growth, and by freeing a significant percentage of the workforce from farming this further helped to drive the Industrial Revolution. In the 18th Century the world population was around 1 billion people. We are currently at 7.2 billion people, with the expectation to reach 9 billion people around 2050. Two hundred years ago the whole issue of living sustainably was not in question. There were plenty of resources and the impacts of human activities were not felt at a large scale. It is only recently that people start to comprehend the impacts of human activity and human development, from the perspective of sustainability.



Ecological or sustainable living is based on a very different set of premises and principles compared to what has become ‘normal’. Society today is fabricated in such a way that information about the true costs and impacts of our choices and actions remain hidden and mostly unaccounted for. Getting feedback and information about our impacts requires a process of active learning and asking questions, which people often find too much trouble. In order to assess the true costs and impacts of our choices and actions we need criteria that make these impacts visible over time and beyond artificial boundaries.

We can get these criteria from stuyding the basic facts of life. Fritjof Capra, co-founder of the Center for Ecoliteracy, describes these facts as follows:

  • Matter cycles continually through the web of life.
  • Most of the energy driving the ecological cycles flows from the sun.
  • Diversity assures resilience.
  • One species’ waste is another species’ food.
  • Life did not take over the planet by combat but by networking. Sourceclick here.

By understanding these basic facts of life we can then assess how to live our life in harmony with these principles. For example, if we know that matter cycles continually through the web of life and we introduce plastic in the environment, we can expect that plastic will also enter the food cycle of many different organisms with the big problem that plastic does not break down, it remains even when in very small pieces. Have a look at this video to understand better the magnitude of this problem.



Here are some practical suggestions for how you can support the change for sustainability via ecological living. In order to sustain outer actions for ecological living it is helpful to remember and draw inspiration from the inner, or personal development dimensions, of ecological living.

Inner ecology

  • Become a Catalyst for the changes that are needed to help co-create a better world and future.
  • You are part of the Web of Life – widen your circle of care and relatedness with non-human beings and spend time in Nature to become NATUREwise.
  • Make the most of our sustainability crisis, which is forcing us to learn, dream, think, design, act and relate in new ways. Every challenge offers opportunities for further and deeper growth; when we reach the end of what we can do with a set way of thinking.
  • Join others around the world as Catalysts and Change Agents for Sustainability.
  • Nurture Nature inside yourself – take care of your body and become aware of your natural body rhythms.
  • Become more energy efficient from the inside-out: worry less, stress less, reduce anxiety and procrastination and learn to recycle your own energy. How? By cleansing transforming and transmuting your inner belief and processing systems that hold into place old patterns of thought, emotion, memory and belief. Don’t waste this precious creative energy –learn to compost your own waste! No need to dump or project this onto others.
  • Become aware of rights, needs and wellbeing of future generations and explore how you can support this in your actions.

Outer ecology

  • Educate yourself about the resources that you, your family and / or organisation utilise to fulfil and sustain your needs. How can you reduce your ecological footprint?
  • Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle!
  • Be aware of the real price for goods and services that you use. Cheap products often have hidden costs (e.g. the cost of child-labour, animal cruelty, or degradation of ecosystems). Find out about any child-labour practices or natural resources that were sacrificed in the process of producing these products and services.
  • Recycle your grey-water.
  • Collect and use your rainwater.
  • Create an organic vegetable garden.
  • Compost your organic waste and use the compost in your garden.
  • Create a garden (with a balance of endemic/indigenous plants) to support local wildlife (animals, insects, trees and plants).
  • Create a roof garden (green roof) as a natural air-conditioning alternative and to increase your garden space.
  • Buy organic and local produces as much as possible.
  • Support local businesses and organisations that care for our planet.

Be the Change for what is needed in this world…