It’s that time of the year when many of us start reflecting on changes we can make to improve our quality of life. And whether you make New Year’s resolutions or not, your thoughts on how life in Bermuda should progress are important. 

We have the ability to make sure our island remains the special place that residents and visitors love.  So for 2011 my goal is to live a lifestyle that embraces sustainable development—it will balance environment, social and economic principles for value today and a quality of life for those that come after me. 

Going ‘green’ has become an undeniably trendy concept in the Western Hemisphere recently.  Some schools require trash-free lunches, many grocery stores offer reusable bags and many people, including myself, use LED and CFL lighting throughout my home.  These are all vital actions in sustaining the communities in which we live, but this year I sought out a way to expand my ‘green ambitions’ further.  So I set my mind to combating Bermuda’s carbon dioxide emission which is 15th highest in the world per capita. Lots of fossil fuel use means high levels of toxic carbon dioxide are being released into the atmosphere which many scientists believe contributes to global warming. 

Also, Bermuda imports 99 per cent of its fossil fuel and our size and geographical location causes us to pay higher prices. As the majority of our gas and diesel fuel is used for private cars I decided my New Years’ Resolution for 2011 will be to ride the bus to work during the week or carpool with neighbours on the days that are rainy or cold. 

Using alternative transportation will not only be beneficial to the environment but also to me personally as I will save money on gas and parking — not to mention avoiding the mental stress of traffic congestion! Also, it is a great way to get to know your neighbours. That is just one example of the three principles of Sustainable Development — environment, social and economic — working together to make a better future for Bermuda.

Building blocks

There are people in our communities that are hurting for necessities like affordable housing, healthy nurturing relationships, and jobs.  I hear people ask, ‘How can individuals focus on the environment or our economy when their basic needs are not met?’  But what I tell them is that all those things are connected.

For example, retaining and maintaining our beautiful Forts and Parks is essential for many reasons, including the fact that they are ideal for walks with families, friends and mentors.  Not only does this mean spending valuable time with each other but it is also an enjoyable way to exercise. Supportive adult role models are one of the many assets that children need for healthy development and they decrease the likelihood of participation in anti-social behaviour. That is why it is vital that we help each other and build supportive relationships with children in our families, neighbourhood and church. 

I have decided to share this calendar with you (left) to demonstrate what can be done to live more sustainably month-by-month. My wish is that you decide to join me in taking these simple steps to improving our quality of life. After all, many hands make light work.

Lynniece Nisbett Garnett is an Officer within the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) under the Ministry of Environment, Planning, and Infrastructure Strategy.  For more information visit www.sdbermuda.bm or join Sustain Bermuda on Facebook.  Ms Garnett can also be reached at sdu@gov.bm.