Coline Ruwet / Associate Professor

ICHEC Brussels Management School / Sociology, Ethics

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A number of unsustainable trends require drastic changes in our consumption and production patterns: how can we foster this transition towards sustainability at fast pace, yet democratically? For fifteen years, as a sociologist, this issue have been my main concern.
A sustainability journey is also made of defining moments. Ten years ago, after my PhD, I decided to take a break and travel by bike for six months, experimenting the joy of living slow pace, the strong connections it creates with nature and people but also witnessing at a larger scale the major environmental degradations and the slow violence it induces upon the weakest. During that period, we had to carry everything with muscular power and became “true materialists”, carefully choosing and repairing our belongings. A chosen sobriety can set you free.
Back home, sustainability became more and more a mindset and a lifestyle rather than a burden. I try to walk the talk. In my daily life, I prioritize slow pace travels and practice the 6R (rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, recycle). Most of the time, it brings me a lot of joy and a sense of place and personal fulfillment. It has been amazing to see the social innovations mushrooming in cities. Being a member of several cooperatives in key sectors is a way to favor this transition: food, energy, finance, culture, PSS.
As a family, for key aspects of our life, we decided to invest our time and money in accordance with our values. Our “kangaroo” house is ecological and zero energy. Alongside with 320 persons, we are members of an urban agro-ecological project that enable us to harvest our own vegetables. Our food waste are either composted or feed the hens of the collective garden next door. Sometimes these activities appear too time-consuming, especially with young children. One of the key drivers is to appreciate all the inputs those projects bring in my life in terms of learning, social connections, sense of autonomy…
However, the answers cannot only be individual or community based. Local and global political actions are essential. Key changes are needed in terms of finance, infrastructure and regulation to facilitate and foster transition at a larger scale. Public authorities could also act as a role model enabling people to experiment sustainability lifestyle (e.g. public school promoting local food systems, administrations using renewable energy sources, offering subscriptions to electric bikes and PSS…).