Last week was spring break, and I really didn’t do anything overly exciting. I went to the eye doctor, and spent time with my family and friends. I did, however, start running again, and because of that, I have been drinking more water than I was before. My tap water at my house is quite gross because the pipes are so old, so I went to Wal-Mart and bought the 23 oz. Ozarka plastic sport water bottles. They come six to a package, and I bought two packages. Instead of throwing them away like I did the other water bottles I had, I take these up to my landlords’ house and refill them out of the tap. Out of the original 12, I have 11 left because my loving brother stole one the other day after we ran.
For week 9, I read the article, Change by Design, by Tim Brown. It was really interesting to me, especially the part about the eye hospital camps. A doctor wanted to come up with a way for third-world countries’ citizens to afford eye surgeries for cataracts. Aravind became a shanty-town where patients could stay and have the surgeries done at little to no cost. It was very impressive to me, because here in the US we want to stay in luxurious rooms in hospitals where we can watch television, eat decent food, and be waited on hand and foot. In the hospital in India where these surgeries are performed, they don’t mind staying in a room like what they have at home. He made the point that most American doctors would never want to leave their fancy houses for a room with a mat on a concrete floor. I think that is the true definition of sustainability to me. I am by no means a sustainable person. I have started noticing that more, and like with the water bottles, I have started trying to do my part. I like my “stuff.” I couldn’t imagine leaving my home of stuff to live in a room that has a mat for a bed. I’ve started seeing the shows on HGTV and DIY network and Discovery channel where people are forgoing traditional homes to live in container houses, tree houses, and tiny houses under 500 square feet. I’m glad that there are people out there who can do that, truly. Watching those shows has shown me that sustainability has become a big deal and that people are beginning to care about the Earth.
In class, we talked about satisfying our happiness with materials and if that was even possible. I think that in a way it can be satisfying albeit short-term. Ice cream makes me happy while I’m eating it, but after I have eaten, I feel guilty because I ate something I shouldn’t have. We talked about satisfying our needs with materials and if that was possible. In my opinion, yes it is. For instance, I’m in the market for a new pair of running shoes. I have a pair of Adidas tennis shoes that I love, but running in them makes my knees hurt. My Under Armour shoes are great for running on smooth roads, but running down my county road in them gives me shin splints. My other Adidas tennis shoes are falling apart, so that puts them way down the list. How many pairs of tennis shoes do I need? Shoes, in general, for me are fashion statements, but since I broke my ankle, I have realized that shoes serve a purpose other than protection and fashion. I never thought running shoes that were fitted to me would be so important, but as I shop, I’m beginning to think that maybe spending $150 on a pair of good running shoes would be in my best interest. For one, they would be fitted to my needs and my body. For two, they would last a fairly long time. For three, I wouldn’t need so many other tennis shoes, so I could donate my old ones.
We also discussed giving back, which is a way to be sustainable. Mark Swaine sews clothes in New York City one day a year for free for anyone who comes by. That is phenomenal to me. It takes a very special person to sit on a sidewalk in NYC with a sewing machine offering to sew anything for anyone for free- talk about giving back. The Empowerment Plan has created the EMPWR coat for the homeless that is a self-heating, water resistant jacket that converts into a sleeping bag. It costs $100 to sponsor a coat. The company also educates and hires the homeless. Carbon Roots International developed a “Green Charcoal” that is carbonized agricultural waste to reduce deforestation.
In this class, we discuss creating something consumers don’t realize they want. I’ve given that concept quite a bit of thought, and I’ve come to a conclusion. Perhaps instead of creating and creating all this new stuff and trying to get people to buy more, we should encourage people to use and appreciate what they have. I oftentimes wonder what the world would be like today if we reverted back to how things were a hundred years ago. My great-grandma didn’t have a television until the 1960’s. America wasn’t obese then because instead of watching a television they didn’t have, they worked and played and did their chores outside. They were much more sustainable and self-reliant than we are today, and they didn’t waste time worrying about what they didn’t have. I wish we would go back to that style of living where we realized the importance of what we did have.