A New Purpose for Sustainability

The three presentations of “Story of Stuff,” “Poverty, Money & Love,” and “A wide angle view of fragile earth” all have one thing in common, which is introducing ways that we can support sustainable practices. “Story of Stuff” emphasizes the importance of sustainability by showing the path of our resources from raw materials all the way until they are considered trash. The five stages of our resources are categorized under the processes of extraction, production, distribution, consumption, and disposal. It also informed its viewers of the importance of a healthy planet by claiming that we cannot be well if our planet is not well. “Poverty, Money & Love” was an inspirational story of how we can help small businesses grow. It used examples of people living in poverty in east Africa but explained that they did not see themselves as “poor”, but rather small business owners and entrepreneurs’. The concept is that if we loan these people small amounts, they will use the money to grow their businesses and be able to pay off their loans slowly. The small jumps in their standard of living are not only rewarding to witness but make an impact on their life that promote their sustainable, local businesses. “A wide-angle view of fragile earth” talks about how we may seem different around the world, but we all share one common denominator, our planet. We all call Earth our home, so why are we destroying it? The presentation talks about how we have changed our planet more in the last 50 years than we have since the start of mankind combined. We rely on unsustainable resources, keep contributing to global warming, destroy forests which are necessary to create oxygen, exploit resources such as fish, which 70% of people rely on, and have people starving. We are on the brink of creating an even larger disaster than we already have, so we need to come together to try and fix it. In the article Environmental Degradation – Poverty, the author discusses how poverty could be a factor with the shape that the planet is in now. It discusses the possible effects and how the poor are not to blame for their actions and that they should be assisted in improving their quality of living so that they may participate in more sustainable practices. I found myself to agree more with the “no” side of the article, that disagrees with the idea of poverty being a reason for environmental destruction. I believe that the poor across the globe do what they must do in order to stay alive, and yes, they may have unsustainable practices, but I don’t think that their practices are on a large enough scale to be an actual problem. I feel that the side of the world with money has a much larger effect on the environment such as the lumber industry, where people are cutting down forests too rapidly or the oil industry where people are making fossil fuels too available to the public to use at such a rapid pace. I think that people are greedy and would rather get a larger paycheck than help the environment by developing more sustainable practices. The article on Green Construction discusses the possibility of implementing more sustainable buildings as a social norm and the possible problems that go along with doing so. I think that the market is not more productive in transitioning to sustainability than the government because of certain problems. These problems include the difficulty of regulating to quantify costs of green buildings because there are so many different programs of implementing green buildings, the timeliness that it would take to revise codes so that green buildings could be implemented due to their technology not meeting coding standards for current code, the inconsistency of green building procedures not all being fully tested, and that Green Buildings are cheaper to operate, but are more expensive to build. The problem of the absence of reusing materials from previous buildings in new ones is wicked, due to its complexity to define a true problem and difficulty to find win-win solutions. If we do not do something about this issue, the world could be in trouble. We are already using resources way too quickly, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of resources available that may seem like junk to some, but are perfectly capable just like the new ones. Recycling is a solution to minimizing waste and the use of resources, but is it being applied to every situation that it can be? One role that I might play within this issue is being an Educator. I can bring the issue to attention in society because I think that contributes to the problem, that people don’t know about the issue in the first place. If I can help bring awareness of the issue, I can make a difference in the world by gaining support in the community and more people to participate in the sustainable practice of recycling in all fields. 


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