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Sustainable Futures through Rooted Practices

Updated: Jan 6

Embracing Climate-Smart Living

During my university years studying agriculture, the focus was on "modern farming" techniques. These included the use of technology such as tractors for land cultivation, practising monoculture – growing a single crop extensively – and relying on chemical aids. We learnt about using pesticides for pest control, herbicides for weed management, and the reliance on factory farms and artificial fertilisers, including high-nitrogen varieties. The curriculum also covered the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for improving yields and enhancing crop resistance.


However, about five years ago, my academic understanding of agriculture was challenged when the United Nations tasked me with preparing a document on climate-smart agriculture (CSA). Although I was familiar with the concept of CSA, I had never practically explored this area. This assignment led me to fieldwork where I encountered local farmers whose perspectives were eye-opening. They questioned the shift towards CSA, pointing out that agricultural advisors had previously discouraged these practices, dismissing them as backward. This confrontation highlighted a stark contradiction: why were we advocating a return to practices previously deemed outdated after promoting modern, progressive farming methods?


I must admit, this interaction left me momentarily at a loss for words. As someone whose relationship with soil, plants, and animals was more theoretical than practical, I found myself in a humbling position. After some reflection, I managed to engage the farmers in a discussion about the principles and benefits of CSA, exploring this new understanding together.


Revisiting our Lifestyle in Light of Climate Change

The transition from traditional to modern practices in various aspects of our lives, as illustrated through agriculture, symbolises a broader shift in our approach to living and interacting with our environment. In our pursuit of modernisation, we have often adopted practices that compromise the health of our planet. This post seeks to highlight that many modern conveniences and methods have inadvertently contributed to climate change.


However, there is a growing realisation that returning to more sustainable, 'rooted' ways of living can significantly mitigate our carbon footprints. While the individual changes might seem small in isolation, their collective impact can be profound if adopted widely. The call to action here is clear: embrace a climate-smart lifestyle. This involves re-evaluating our daily choices – from what we eat and how we travel to the way we manage our homes and gardens.


The essence of this post is not just about agriculture but extends to all facets of life. It advocates for a return to practices that are in harmony with nature, ones that our ancestors might recognise. This is the essence of climate change mitigation at the individual level, and it is a powerful tool in our collective effort to combat this global challenge.


This reconnection with simpler, more traditional ways of living does not mean rejecting modernity outright. Instead, it is about finding a balance where modern conveniences coexist with sustainable practices. By adopting a climate-smart approach in various aspects of our lives, we contribute to a larger movement – one that values our planet's health and ensures a sustainable future for coming generations.

Comparative Table of Farming Practices

This table presents a comprehensive comparison of different farming practices, highlighting the evolution from traditional methods to modern farming, and ultimately to climate-smart agriculture. It illustrates the significant shifts in technology use, crop diversity, pest control, and other key aspects, emphasising the need for sustainable and environmentally friendly practices in agriculture.

Sustainable Living in Every Sector

Living sustainably and taking climate-smart actions are not just about advanced technology or comprehensive policy changes. Sometimes, the most effective solutions are found in returning to simpler methods, rediscovering the strength of "basics" in key areas of our lives. Let us explore how this approach can benefit various sectors:


1.    Transport: Embrace eco-friendly movement

  • Non-motorised transport: Prioritise walking, cycling, and scooting for short journeys. These methods not only reduce emissions but also enhance your health and connect you to your environment.

  • Public transport: For longer distances, choose buses, trains, and trams. Sharing transport reduces carbon footprints and builds community.

  • Carpooling and car-free days: Arrange shared journeys for work or errands, and set car-free days to inspire yourself and others.


2.    Nutrition: Choose earth-friendly foods

  • Organic choices: Select organic produce, meats, and dairy to support eco-friendly farming, protect biodiversity, and limit chemical exposure.

  • Seasonal and local eating: Prefer seasonal and locally sourced foods. This reduces transport emissions, supports local producers, and ensures fresher food.

  • Grow your food: Grow herbs, vegetables, or fruits yourself. It is a fulfilling activity, connecting you to your diet and reducing packaging.

  • Reduce meat consumption: Consider opting for more plant-based meals. Livestock farming contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, making a shift towards a plant-based diet beneficial for the environment.


3.    Health: Prioritise eco-conscious wellness

  • Preventative healthcare: Focus on early detection and prevention to minimise extensive medical treatments with hidden environmental costs.

  • Natural remedies: Before turning to pharmaceuticals, explore natural remedies and traditional healing for minor ailments.

  • Active lifestyle: Opt for active travel, outdoor activities, and regular exercise, reducing your dependence on motorised transport.


4.   Education: Learn for sustainability

  • Hands-on learning: Engage in activities such as gardening or cooking to teach practical skills and environmental connection.

  • Local knowledge: Integrate local traditions and wisdom into the curriculum for sustainable practices and cultural appreciation.

  • Socratic dialogue: Encourage questioning and discussion to foster critical thinking beyond rote memorisation.


5.     Water & Sanitation: Conserve vital resources

  • Rainwater harvesting: Implement systems to collect and use rainwater, reducing reliance on limited water resources.

  • Composting toilets: Utilise these to save water, create fertiliser, and reduce sewage pollution.

  • Hygiene education: Focus on basic hygiene practices in communities to prevent disease and improve overall health.


6.    Waste management: Reduce, reuse, recycle

  • Effective segregation: Implement proper waste segregation to facilitate recycling and reduce landfill waste.

  • Composting: Compost organic waste to create nutrient-rich soil for gardening, reducing the need for chemical fertilisers.

  • Creative upcycling: Find innovative ways to repurpose old items, reducing the demand for new products and minimising waste.


7.    Water conservation: Protect precious resources

  • Efficient usage: Implement water-saving fixtures and practices in homes and workplaces.

  • Protect water bodies: Participate in efforts to clean and protect rivers, lakes, and oceans.

  • Sustainable landscaping: Adopt landscaping practices that require minimal water, such as xeriscaping or native plant gardening.


8.    Energy: Embrace efficient solutions

  • Passive solar design: Optimise natural light and ventilation in buildings to reduce artificial climate control needs.

  • Efficient cooking stoves: Replace traditional cooking methods with energy-efficient stoves to save fuel and improve air quality.

  • Local renewable energy: Promote community-based renewable energy projects for a more sustainable energy source.


9.    Plastic waste: Towards sustainable practices

  • Reduce and reuse: Encourage reducing single-use plastics and opting for reusable items.

  • Community recycling programs: Develop local recycling initiatives for effective plastic waste management.

  • Biodegradable alternatives: Invest in plant-based plastic alternatives to minimise long-term pollution.


10. Mental health: Foster inner well-being

  • Nature connection: Regularly spend time in natural settings to boost mental health.

  • Mindful movement: Adopt activities like walking or yoga for mental and emotional balance.

  • Quality sleep: Prioritise adequate rest, free from digital distractions, for overall well-being.


11. Beauty: Celebrate natural aesthetics

  • Focus on inner beauty: Cultivate self-acceptance and inner peace.

  • Emphasise natural appearance: Embrace minimal interventions for a natural look.

  • Authentic expression: Encourage unique styles and self-expression.


12. Architecture: Building with nature in mind

  • Natural elements: Incorporate natural light and air flow in building designs.

  • Human scale design: Focus on comfortable and inviting space proportions.

  • Sustainable materials: Use local, recycled, or natural materials in construction


13. Transport infrastructure: Climate-smart construction

  • Labour-based methods: Use labour-intensive techniques to minimise fuel use and reduce the need for extensive site excavation, preserving the natural landscape.

  • Green infrastructure: Incorporate features such as swales and bioswales for effective stormwater management, enhancing ecological health.

  • Permeable surfaces: Employ porous materials in road construction to allow rainwater infiltration, aiding groundwater replenishment and mitigating runoff.

  • Low-carbon materials: Opt for materials with reduced carbon footprints, such as recycled or locally sourced options, to decrease environmental impact.


14. Consumer habits: Mindful consumption

  • Eco-friendly products: Choose products with minimal environmental impact, considering their production, usage, and disposal.

  • Mindful shopping: Reduce impulse buying and focus on purchasing items that are necessary and sustainable.

  • Support green businesses: Patronise businesses that actively implement sustainable practices and contribute to environmental conservation.


15. Community engagement: Building sustainable societies

  • Bottom-up approaches: Rejuvenate and apply traditional methods of resource management. These age-old practices offer sustainable solutions rooted in local wisdom.

  • Collective responsibility: Cultivate a shared commitment to sustainability among all community members. Encourage each member to adopt simple, time-tested sustainable practices in their daily lives.

  • Revive traditional practices: Promote communal practices such as collective gardening, composting, crafts making and apprenticeships to reconnect people with, and perpetuate sustainable traditions.

  • Grassroots education in sustainability: Organise informal forums and hands-on learning experiences focused on traditional, eco-friendly living practices. Highlight the benefits and practicality of returning to basic, sustainable habits.


Concluding Reflections with a Call to Action at NITE TANZARN IntellectNest

As we explore the journey of sustainable living, we discover that the key to a healthier planet rests in the lessons from our history. The practices of our forebears, in sync with nature, provide a guiding framework for a sustainable tomorrow. Embracing these age-old methods in fields like agriculture, transportation, and everyday living, we pay homage to our heritage and crucially contribute to reducing the impacts of climate change. This shift towards simplicity does not imply forsaking modern progress. Instead, it encourages a balanced integration of innovation and tradition for the well-being of our planet and future generations.


The concept of "back to basics" is not about a retreat to earlier times but a revival of core principles that align with nature, often missed in today's fast-paced life. Integrating these essential yet transformative practices across different life aspects paves the way for a more balanced, sustainable, and enriching life.


Each community may find unique "back to basics" solutions tailored to their specific context and needs. The essence lies in understanding that straightforward, low-tech approaches, when blended with contemporary advancements and local insights, can effectively tackle complex challenges.


Therefore, let’s collectively embrace these fundamental principles and strive to create a more sustainable, fair future, one step at a time. Every small action counts towards this goal. By adopting these practices in our daily lives, we all contribute to a healthier planet and ensure a prosperous future for the coming generations.


Join this movement towards a greener, more resilient world. Embrace the simple yet powerful actions that can make a significant difference. Together, let us build a sustainable and equitable future, starting now.



About the Author

Nite Tanzarn brings over 20 years of international development experience, having worked on more than 100 assignments across 24 African countries for organisations such as the European Union, World Bank, and United Nations. Adept in both research and practice, Nite’s work spans diverse sectors, including transport and agriculture. Nite is committed to promoting gender equality, women’s empowerment, and social inclusion.

368 views32 comments


Jan 10

Thank Nite. It is very informative. Am in a Movement called "My Family Food is African". Whenever you prepare a meal and or serve a plate of food ask yourself, what is African or Ugandan about it!! My Farm can be referred to as Food Forest Garden

Replying to

Thank you for your thoughtful comment! The "My Family Food is African" movement sounds fascinating and is a brilliant way to connect with our roots through everyday practices like cooking. The concept of your Food Forest Garden is equally inspiring, emphasizing sustainability and cultural richness in our food choices. It's initiatives like these that pave the way for a more mindful and grounded future. Keep up the great work!





This is an interesting read. The fight for sustainability has alot against it especially the fast rate at which our economy is growing. We tend to hate looking at history, thinking what our ancestors did was primitive hence has no place in the new era we are in

Replying to

Hi Faith,

Thank you for your insightful comment. You've touched on a crucial issue – the tension between economic growth and sustainable practices. It's indeed a challenge to balance these aspects, especially in an era that often undervalues historical wisdom. Your point about our tendency to disregard the past in favour of what is perceived as 'modern' is particularly thought-provoking. It opens up an important dialogue about how we can learn from history to shape a more sustainable future. I'm glad you brought this perspective to the conversation, as it enriches our understanding of sustainable development.





Jan 07

Thank you very much for this work. I am a Ugandan and would like to be a key player in sustainable agriculture basically in the fight to protect and conserve the fauna and flora. The traditional species are becoming extinct.

Kakaire N. Paul

Thank you

Replying to

Hi Paul,

I'm truly heartened to hear about your commitment to sustainable agriculture and conservation efforts in Uganda. The issue of protecting traditional species, both flora and fauna, is indeed critical, and it's inspiring to know that individuals like you are taking a stand. Your focus on preserving biodiversity not only benefits the environment but also helps maintain the ecological balance essential for our planet's health. Your dedication is a powerful reminder of the role each of us can play in creating a more sustainable world. Keep up the fantastic work, and I hope my blog can continue to offer useful insights and support in your endeavours.





Jan 06

Thank you for that enlightenment 🙏

Replying to

Isaac, I'm glad you found the post enlightening and thank you for the kind words! It's wonderful to have such positive feedback.





Jan 06

This is quite interesting and informative article. Rose

Replying to

I'm glad you found the article interesting and informative, Rose. Thanks for taking the time to read and share your thoughts!




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