Taking the Leap into Sustainability

We have only been together for two weeks now, but I feel myself becoming more aware of the sustainability issues, we the human race, encounter on an everyday basis. I have always been intrigued by the thought of sustainability, but I never really took the necessary leap to fully submerge myself. This class, however, is just what I needed to give me that little ounce of push to get me over the edge.

There were two main topics we discussed in class last week and I can easily say, with great certainty, that they’ve already modified my perception of the world we live in. The first topic I want to discuss is mindful meditation. I’ve dabbled in meditation before, but I have never heard of mindful meditation, until last week. Mindful meditation involves a “systematic retraining of awareness and non-reactivity, leading to the diffusion from whatever is experienced, and allowing the individual to more consciously choose these thoughts, emotions, and sensations they identify with, rather than habitually reacting to them”. This topic on meditation really spoke to me because I find myself thinking about the future more often than I should and not focusing on the here and now. Habitually going through the motions and not realizing what I am doing. The purpose of this topic was to enlighten us to be more aware of our surroundings and to be more mindful when it comes to everyday functions such as throwing away plastic utensils in the trash and not the recycling bin. These small changes in the way we go about our day add up, which might be how we save our planet if everyone hops onboard the mindfulness train.

I found the second topic we discussed in class to be very interesting. I never really examined how globalization could have a devastating effect on our planet or the fact that our western values, ethics, and dominant paradigms could play a huge part in the environmental impact/concern we see today. The biggest question we faced this week was, “Are western values, ethics, and dominant paradigms compatible with sustainability?”. Even though I was delegated to the “Yes” group, I find myself on the fence with this subject. First and foremost, let’s define what a dominant social paradigm is. A dominant social paradigm is a cluster of beliefs, values, and ideals that influence our thinking about society, government, and individual prosperity. Through reading this article, it was hard for me to determine what actually causes environmental impact because both arguments made some really good points. There is no doubt in my mind that globalization does provide a solution to some of the global issues countries are facing today, but how far can we go before we start seeing diminishing returns on our environment? I wish I knew that answer, but in my view, we might’ve already gone too far. With big corporations setting up shop in foreign countries and depleting their natural resources, with little to no regard to the environment or the people, it might be time to start establishing new foreign institutional changes. Globalization is key to economic growth, but it certainly comes at a cost. A cost we might not know until it’s too late.

On the contrary, I firmly believe that our western ideologies play a significant part in contributing to environmental impact. Our consumerism habits have gotten widely out of control. In the article, it was mentioned that if everyone lived like Americans, the earth could only sustain 1.4 billion people. That is alarming considering the fact that the earth’s population at the time of this article was 5.7 billion. We as Americans really need to sit down and think about what is truly important, our material products or happiness on earth for future generations. At this rate of consumption and mismanagement of waste, there might not be a future generation.

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