This week I wanted to change it up again and share my answers to the questions I’ve been asking others throughout these past weeks. I’ll share why our planet itself makes sustainability important and why I feel such a need to live in a sustainable way.
What does Sustainability mean to you?
To me, sustainability is giving our future generations an equal and equitable life as those who lived before them. This can be achieved by ensuring that environmental, economic, and social needs are all balanced in a way that humans and our interconnected ecosystem can continue to survive.
Why does it matter?
Sustainability is so important to us and our planet because is the right thing to do. I always think of how lucky we are to be alive on this planet. Just think of all the planets that we know of that don’t have one thing suitable for life. But here we are on a planet that supports numerous kinds of life. And here we are, the result of so many things working out perfectly to evolve to us. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of it. We breathe out what plants need and we breathe in what plants give. We drink from what the sky drop and plants grow from it too. Our water and our air is made of the right composition of elements to support of life. Our planet’s ecosystem evolved in such an interconnected, balanced, and fragile way over the course of over 4 billion years, so what begins to happen when it’s all the sudden handed almost 8 billion people, who rely on fossil fuel emitting corporations? The fragile balance begins to fall out of wack. On a geologic timescale, our population growth and Industrial Revolution happened in a geologic instant. Sustainability is important because the Earth is good in and of itself, and it is only right to ensure that it continues being able to sustain not only future human life, but everything within our interconnected ecosystem as a whole.
Are there any practices that you implement in your everyday life to make it more sustainable?
I think many things that support big business is what I try to get away from. I like to vote with my money, so instead of buying products from, say, Walmart, I try buy my products from the farmer’s market when I can. I try to buy second hand clothing when I can. I try to avoid plastic products as much as I can. A lot of people that I’m close with grow their own vegetables or raise their own chickens, so I buy a lot of their stuff. I like to support small and local businesses because I think that can make a huge difference environmentally, economically, and socially. Yeah buying from Walmart is cheaper and more convenient, but I want to get away from buying clothes produced from cheap labor, buying produce packaged in almost exclusively plastic, and buying products that were shipped thousands of miles to get to me. Just the fossil fuel emissions saved from buying local makes a huge difference. I always wonder what it would be like if every community began to invest in their small and local businesses. How would that change sustainable living? I think it would a lot. It would put the money into the local economies instead of in some already-billionaire CEO’s pocket. It would give the individuals the power and not the top 1%. It would be so much less shipping of products by plane and truck and so much less of the greenhouse gases emitted from that would be lessened. Thinking of how far Amazon is coming, some times that seems far off, but I’m still hopeful for some kind of change. To reduce the amount of waste I produce, I started composting a few years ago. I figured, why throw away something that will be rotting in a plastic bag in a landfill for years when I can have it decompose in my backyard to be used for fertilizer on my flowers the next year? I also work at a nature center. Being part of restoration work days and taking part in plant surveys all help make small differences to my local ecosystem and community. I get to collect native seeds and take down invasive species. Each little bit helps move in the right direction.
Was there a certain moment or light-switch that marked when you wanted to or felt the need to make these changes?
When I look back, I think it was a compilation of things that made me what to make these changes. In high school, there was a small unit in freshman biology about the environment. I think we were watching a short clip about landfills and the women being interviewed in it said something like, “well when we throw our trash away, we don’t really think of where ‘away’ is. There’s no ‘away’ just because it’s out of sight.” And then I was like, “dang.” As I watched the remainder of that video, I began to think about all the things my family throws away on a weekly basis and times that by the country’s population and thought, if we keep up throwing stuff away at the rate we are, are we going to have enough landfills for it all? Later that summer my brother and sister-in-law took me on my first camping trip out in the Black Hills. It was there I felt such a peace that I hadn’t really felt before. It made me want to preserve the Earth’s beauty and make sure that others get to experience what I felt. After taking more camping trips, becoming closer to nature, and taking classes like environmental ethics, I truly realized that this is something I’m passionate about. I think it’s my ethical sense combined with my connection to the outdoors – that’s what made me want to change and push for social change too.
Stay tuned for part two of my view on sustainability during next week’s blog. Naturally, I have a lot to say about this topic as an Environmental Science major, so thanks for coming to hang out on my blog!