The First Step Is Mindfulness

This past week, we have talked a lot about the importance of mindfulness in regards to the reversal of environmental unsustainability and degradation. Being mindful is a necessary first step to change. When we are mindful, we begin to be empathetic to the needs of others, biodiversity, and the environment, recognizing the consequences of our actions before we act. An imperative step to being mindful is to look introspectively at ones own life, taking into consideration the conditions of our own hearts. The article we read in class, “How mindfulness can shift to a more sustainable society”, defines mindfulness as being present when thinking and acting. It is important we remember the quote “Be Here Now” because it encompasses what it means to be mindful. Activities such as yoga and meditation aid in mindfulness, allowing people to clear their heads of junk and focus on what is happening in that very moment. What is going on in the world around us? What is our role? These are things we can reflect on more honestly when we begin to live mindfully.

               Mindfulness is a hot topic in society today. Marc Coen’s TED Talk speaks on the importance of personal health, with outstanding health being achieved mostly through the use of Complimentary Medicine, rather than Western Medicine. Surprisingly, our moods and the attitudes and health of those around us influence the state of our health too. We must begin to live a life of love, in order to reconnect with nature. This causes a chain reaction of outstanding physical health, as well as environmental health. Although the earth has its hand in natural destruction and creation, no energy can be truly destroyed or created. It connects the earth, making it whole. It is a balancing act, harmonious to say the least. We must continue to be mindful of this balance, in order to create harmony in our environment, as well as within ourselves.

               For my Investigative Report, I have chosen to research the wicked problem of construction waste mismanagement. I have read many articles, expanding on the subject from different parts of the world. One thing I find interesting about this issue is always the cost-benefit analysis being used. It is very difficult to solve this problem, due to many underlying factors. When we start creating more environmentally friendly materials to use, cost of production in factories might increase, as well as the amount of time and manpower involved in creating said materials. We must be mindful of the consequences, making sure they do not outweigh the good being done by using environmentally sustainable materials.

               As I read the article regarding Environmental Degradation and our role in it, I was very interested at the points the article made. I liked the idea that in order to slow down environmental degradation, we must improve the livelihood of the poor. When those surrounded by poverty have access to assets more easily, such as money, healthcare, food, or even clean water, jobs that further environmental degradation will become less necessary. Working with local and national governances to improve living standards of the poor will, in theory, aid this epidemic.

               Another TED Talk we watched, and I enjoyed greatly, was given by a woman names Leyla. She spoke on the subject of changing the conversation. Many times, society will preach that the way to change how we use resources is to change our habits. Although this is true, most people do not think altruistically about issues such as environmental degradation. They must have an incentive to waste less. She mentions the invention of a tea kettle that the user must manually hold down the lid in order for the water inside to boil. This makes the consumer more conscious about how much water they are making, because they do not want to stand at the stove longer than they must. The theory that inventors must change the way products work in order to influence the way we use them is genius.

               Lastly, we touched on the subject of Biophilia. Biophilia is recognized simply as the love of life, or natural things. Humanity must reconnect with our biophilic side in hopes that we begin to be compassionate and empathetic towards the natural world. In the design world, there is a type of design known as Biophilic Design. There are 14 different categories of biophilic design, such as “visual connection with nature”, “presence of water”, “risk/peril”, and the like. It is a very neat concept, to reconnect infrastructure with the natural world. There are many advantages to doing so. Advantages include the science behind being closer to nature. It has been observed that the closer we are to nature, the more calm and collected we tend to be. This ties straight into mindfulness. When we begin to live within the means of nature, becoming one with it again, we will begin to see the change.

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