Close your eyes. Focus on breathing slowly. In 1, 2, 3… Out 4, 5, 6, 7… now picture yourself in a peaceful setting, a riverbank perhaps that cuts through the mountains. The water is flowing, the air is crisp, and the sun is shining bright. The birds are chirping, and the bees are buzzing. Do you feel more relaxed or more connected to nature? This week in class, our focus was learning about and incorporating mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about achieving peace with your surroundings including the people and how they are feeling. It is about showing empathy for the situations that people may be in or even situations like global warming. This makes you feel bad for the earth and all living organisms that call this planet home. We learned that the more likely you are to be mindful about things, the more likely you are to care about the environment and the problems associated with it today.
One exercise that we did that really stuck out to me was when we were each handed an organic piece of matter such as a leaf or a stick. We used them to meditate in class and had the option to keep them for the day. I will admit that I put my leaf in my pocket only to have it break into a thousand pieces, but cleaning out my jacket pocket later that day made me think about that. It made me realize that sometimes there are unexpected consequences that occur from our actions that we never realized would happen in the first place. An example of this could be throwing away a plastic bag and missing the dumpster. This bag eventually found its way to the ocean and got caught around a sea turtle, but you didn’t expect this to happen. This goes to show that even though you didn’t anticipate the negative consequence, it can come regardless. If you always do what is right, especially when it comes to helping the environment, then you don’t have to worry about unexpected problems.
Activity 2 was also eye opening. For my topic, I am looking into recycling, or the lack of it, especially in the field of architecture and construction. It amazes me how little resources are reused in todays society. It seems that everything has to be brand new or it isn’t good enough. In the world of buildings, resources brick and metal can be used again and again because they don’t deteriorate over time like wood, but they aren’t. When buildings are torn down, their scraps are thrown out rather than put into building something new.
The reading where we were given different sides to look into was a bit discouraging. What I took from the reading was that people were using resources too quickly at an unsustainable rate, which is dangerous. The argument was if it were possible for globalization to be a sustainable practice. I said that at least in this day and age, no it is not. Global warming is a real issue that threatens our existence on earth, but I’m not sure if there is anything that can be done at this point. Society is so consumed with things like cars and airplanes and other things that cause large amounts of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere and practices such as deforestation are growing in popularity. Deforestation is harmful if not done sustainably because it reduces the amount of CO2 being absorbed and switched with oxygen and it reduces the habitat for many organisms, especially in the rainforests where biodiversity is rich.
Last, the ted talk by Leyla Acaroglu was interesting. She started it off asking what was better for the environment, paper or plastic shopping bags. The answer was neither because to make paper bags, whole forests are cut down. This emphasized the true meaning of a wicked problem for me because yes, paper is eco friendly compared to plastic. It is biodegradable and won’t get caught around a sea turtle if it ends up in the ocean, but paper comes from trees, which are not exactly an expendable resource. She talked about how as people, it would take time, but would be possible to make a culture change in order to participate more sustainable practices.