Sustainable Development Goals
"A blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all people and the world by 2030"
Too often, we see big projects like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and feel glad that some big organizations work on these goals... but we don't see much we can do ourselves. Our individual actions, however, may represent the best first step toward achieving these objectives. The immense challenges we face were caused by the accumulation of individual, group, business, and political choices. Only a concerted effort by all of us has hope of success. On this page, we analyze our own resources and capacities for helping in these efforts.
We used the UN's Millennium Goals as the major part of our mission statement when they were first signed in the year 2000 and made it the major focus of the Sustainable Resources conferences we organized and sponsored 2003-2005. And now we have the Sustainable Development Goals. While we support all of these goals, our ability to help achieve them varies. Because water is such a foundation for all life, however, and because water remains the focus of our business efforts, our impact can extend to almost all of these categories in at least a small way.
1. No Poverty
"Poverty alleviation" describes our longest standing company mission. The Sustainable Resources conferences have probably made the biggest impact in this field. We support organizations dedicated to this with our donation/investment model as well as developing microenterprise, irrigation, and collaboration models.
2. Zero Hunger
Although growing enough food is obviously a key to ending hunger, it's not enough. We need to do this without creating more problems. (According to the EPA, as of July 2021 more than 30% of pollution in the U.S. comes from agriculture.) Affordable food also needs transportation to the people who need it, and transportation systems are often spotty or not available at all. Our low-cost, simple, and gravity-powered systems can make huge strides toward ending hunger by making it easier for people to grow their own food. See information on subsurface root demand irrigation here.
3. Good Health and Well-Being
Just growing enough food can take us backward if the growing methods pollute the soil and our rivers and lakes with pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and other agricultural waste runoff. And good quality food grown in healthy, rich soil easily becomes a solid foundation for general good health and well-being. Our composting toilet systems both prevent pollution and provide some of the world's best and free fertilizers. The more healthy our farmlands, the more healthy our people. The more healthy our people, the more resistant and resilient we are to disease, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Quality Education
We don't have many directly educational products, but most find it hard to learn if they are too hungry or sick. Also, helping people start up new crops and agricultural methods encourages motivated learning.
5. Gender Equality
Historians (like Will and Ariel Durant) believe that women invented agriculture while the men were out hunting and stayed in charge of it until the invention of the plow, that men have improved agricultural systems but not always in sustainable ways. We believe that gender equality and all of us working together has become essential, especially in regenerating agriculture in ways that benefit the majority of people instead of just the corporate elite.
6. Clean Water & Sanitation
We can blame much of our water pollution problems on antiquated and profit-only irrigation systems. Blumat watering systems have no run-off so - even if a greenhouse or farm uses chemical fertilizers and nasty insecticides - pollution doesn’t run into our rivers and lakes. Most of our electric composting toilets are also self-contained and have no run off.
7. Affordable & Clean Energy
We pioneered solar electric - according to the Solar Roots project, our stores Open Circle and Real Goods were the first to retail photovoltaic solar modules back in the 1970's. We still sell solar-powered water and transfer pumps but a bigger impact on creating more affordable and clean energy comes from more efficient irrigation systems that require a small fraction of the energy. Our gravity irrigation systems fed from rain barrels and our agrivoltaic systems don't need any electricity at all.
8. Decent Work & Economic Goals
Our microenterprise projects support poverty-alleviation projects in developing countries and some of our urban farming ones help create urban oases in cities. We also want to promote and create higher salaries and benefits for people working in companies like ours that are supporting social and environmental benefits. Too often, people have to choose between doing meaningful, beneficial work in a company with low salaries and benefits and a company making things worse but offering high salaries and benefits. A small percentage of people can avoid this soul-selling, but to scale up and meet the magnitude of the crises we're facing, we need a much larger support network.
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
The larger the company, the more difficult the innovation. Small companies are like kayaks that quickly change course and adjust to the dangers and opportunistic business shoals. Large companies are more like ocean liners that only change course with great expense. Large companies have the infrastructure and skills to scale up but small companies are much better at experimenting, inventing, and pioneering better economic strategies. We co-create many of our products with our customers, and we try new products and systems, test, adjust, fine-tune, and continuously improve them.
10. Reduced Inequality
According to the Economic Policy Institute, In 2020 CEOs received a salary 351 times higher than a typical worker in their companies. Their pay skyrocketed 1,322% since 1978. Not only unfair and unethical, this borders on criminality and needs to stop. Too many of us don't believe in our own worth and try to use wealth as a confirmation of value. We need to see through that deception and stop being hypnotized by this unrealistic and mistaken belief. The Sustainable Village CEO stopped taking out profits, and we have also started the process of making the company employee-owned.
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
People living in rural areas account for only 14% of the U.S. population but 72% of the land area (cited by the USDA). Most of our work with farms and greenhouses is rural-based, but people living in cities can have huge impacts; community gardens, urban farming, rooftop gardens, CSA, vertical gardens, balcony gardens, rain collection, greywater systems... Just planting one tree in a lawn can save up to 50% of the water needed for the grass. See our Sustainable Cities page.
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
If everyone in the world had the same consumption patterns as the U.S., we would need more than 5 earths for enough natural resources (if as Japan, 3 earths), according to the Global Footprint Network. At the same time, however, as the imperatives to consume less escalate, advertising and brain-washing techniques skyrocket. Commercials have convinced most that they can only be accepted, respected, and loved if they buy unnecessary and polluting products. We need to see through this illusion and find more meaning, more real happiness in choosing more wisely, buying less, and selecting useful long-lasting products. This is the criteria we use for deciding on which products to carry.
13. Climate Action
Going as far back as 1970, we have kept our businesses focused on products, systems, and collaborations that prevent the further deterioration of our climate and the planet in general. We pioneered organic gardening (1970), drip irrigation (1975), solar electric systems (1978), compact fluorescent (1985) and LED lighting (1996). Our world has the solutions - the products, systems, and knowledge - we just need global motivation and support.
14. Life Below Water
Deep water represents the unknown and - for most people - a foreign realm unrelated to their lives. Unfortunately though, water knows no enemies and absorbs our pollutants and garbage, becoming acidic. Chemical fertilizers, additives, and insecticides wash away from our farms and gardens and travel quickly downstream into our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Blumat/BluSoak systems have little or no runoff and reduce much of this pollution. We design and supply systems for floating gardens, and we also have aeration systems that help keep standing water healthy.
15. Life on Land
Modern civilization separates most of us from a more direct relationship with nature and an attitude of thinking of it only as a resource to exploit. This attitude has led to rapidly increasing deforestation, desertification, the extinction of unprecedented numbers of plant and animal species, and a serious threat today for roughly 1 million more species. Without healthy ecosystems and strong biodiversity, threats increase and undermine our food security, economies, and our general health and quality of life. Growing backyard gardens and taking care of houseplants helps people appreciate and respect nature, and gives them a more emotional reason to support protecting and regenerating nature.
16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
Egocentrism, nationalism, and competition for what we believe are limited resources create conflict, war, and injustice while preventing the cooperation necessary for achieving environmental goals. Pollution does not respect boundaries and doesn't need a passport to cross national borders. The same for pandemics like COVID-19. The business model separates us in some ways but it also demonstrates the possibility for cross-border cooperation, learning from each other's successes and failures, and the appreciation for cultural diversity. See our Social Projects page.
17. Partnerships for the Goals
Competition became one of the key factors in creating the environmental and social problems we now face. Many of the solutions require the opposite - collaboration. Instead of duplicating efforts and wasting time and money on what our competition does, we can partner, work together, and have a much bigger impact. Our Social Projects page describes some of our efforts and suggestions in this direction. As Buckminster Fuller explained, "We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.
"We face a five-alarm global fire that requires the full mobilization of all countries. We must go into emergency mode against the climate crisis. We need an avalanche of action." -UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Jan 21, 2022
*All graphics on this page courtesy of the United Nations.
**For a visual/musical backdrop to this page and going forward with these plans, try Imagine.