However, sustainability is really a social thing rather than an individual thing (although certainly individual actions can contribute to social sustainability). This recently came to mind when I was reading about the "sustainable community" (not commune as Woody Harrelson points out) that Willie Nelson, Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Kris Kristofferson, and others live in in Maui, Hawaii.
Here's the main point: why do Nelson, Wilson, Harrelson, and Kristofferson live in this community and not you, me, and your brother?
Because they're rich and it's probably expensive to live there. It's the same reason why my house doesn't run on solar power, although that would be a nice long-term goal. I'd imagine living sustainably on Hawaii is even more expensive than living on the mainland.
So how can these guys afford it? Well Willie is a musician - an old favorite of mine, in fact. The last time I saw him in concert I drove up to Baltimore to see him perform with Bob Dylan. Come to think of it, I remember lots of cars in that parking lot.
We drive to these things, and we pay for the concerts and movies these guys are making, by doing what we do everyday: which inevitably uses a lot of carbon and other resources. Getting to and from work on carbon-consuming transportation got me the money to buy Harrelson's movie Zombieland, which got him the money to buy his nice sustainable house.
We live in a market economy and a democratic society. Life is always social. We achieve what we achieve because of the actions of others, so when we think about a concept like "sustainability" we can't just think of what the total behavior of society enables a few rich guys to do. We have to instead think about what the total behavior of society enables all of society to do
This isn't to say I'm against what they're doing, just because I think in reality the life style is not as sustainable as they'd like to think. It creates a goal for people, and rich people have always pioneered the technology that then becomes affordable for the rest of us. And they're certainly raising awareness about these issues.
But when it comes to thinking about sustainability, you've gotta think globally - not locally.