A New Year’s Gift to Myself—Part Two
I enjoyed my New Years gift to myself so much that I have decided to make it a gift that keeps on giving all year. Part one of my New Year’s gift was a definition and context for Sustainability by LeoScribe. Part two is a fleshing out of perspectives on how we can connect our actions to a broader system of sustainability.
The Whistler blueprint I mentioned in the last post was so impressive that it deserves further examination. The first 2 objectives (in the Leoscribe interpretation) concern the relative use of natural resources. Objective 1—reduce the amount of resources extracted from the Earth. So the earth is not a compilation of natural resources waiting to be extracted in service to humanity; rather Earth is something for humanity to co-exist with (here is the first perspective). This does not mean extract nothing; it does mean proactively look for ways to extract less (i.e., renewable energy sources).
Objective 2—use less artificial substances and chemicals (than you did before). The more ethereal interpretation of this is that God gave us lots of great natural materials to use on Earth for our needs. We can look for ways to use them at a rate that enables them to be preserved for future uses as well (2nd perspective). The most visible example of this is food produced via organic methods. A counter example is what happened to the West Coast salmon fisheries over the past couple of years: the federal government had to halt salmon fishing for a while near Oregon to preserve the stocks due to overfishing.
Objectives 3 and 4 are oriented to looking beyond what goes into the actual product itself. Objective 3 is to reduce (our) contribution to the degradation of the natural environment. If you think of a tree that dies and fall over, it shortly becomes the home for other plants, thus renewing itself. It does not go to be entombed into a landfill. The perspective here is to be concerned with the entire product lifecycle. Be concerned with how a product is made before you use it and what happens to it after you use it-(3rd perspective).
Objective 4 is concerned with human impact as well as environmental impact. The critical point here is that traditional economic theory assumes a hands off, disconnected relationship between buyer/consumer and seller/producer. But sustainability is about creating connections where none previously existed. Not only do I want to support environmentally friendly products, but I also hope to support businesses that value their workers and their communities- (4th perspective).
That’s a lot of perspectives to think about! These 4 perspectives seem so easy and mutually reinforcing. This is a caution sign because this whole “sustainability” idea might be too good to be true. After all, it might be a little more difficult than expected to translate these ideals into actual practice. But on the other hand, the thought processes and actions involved in actually implementing these sustainability perspectives might also lead to connections and ideals that I have never known before.
Happy New Year!