Sustainability at its Finest

Sustainability is the act of being more mindful of the environment by taking action to change unsustainable ways. This definition has changed and evolved the more we progress as an intellectually human race. What I mean by this, is we are developing more and more things that help pollute the earth then we have before, so sustainability is evolving into a more serious topic. Not serious enough to have the general population change their living habits. This is because our action contributing to waste is not directly effecting us, but is indirectly effecting us. Meaning we do not walk outside seeing piles of trash all over the streets, rather, we see things on the news, such as the sea of trash. The news can only tell us what we are doing wrong, not have us live these mistakes out. Until we are forced to be more sustainable, the issue involving keeping our world clean, will be overlooked.

This leads into what a wicked problem is. A wicked problem is an issue that does not have an end solution. It has solutions to make it better or work for now, but no end to the problem. For example, world hunger is a wicked problem. People can donate, create non-profit organizations or even go on mission trips to make a difference for some, but world hunger has no true solution unless we lived in a utopia. A tame problem is an issue that does have a solution or algorithm, such as solving a math problem. The six characteristics of why wicked problems are so hard to solve: Vague Problem Definitions, it hard to pin point what the true problem is, Variable Solutions, it is difficult to pin point one solution to a detailed problem, Solutions Have No End Point, we never know when it will end, Solutions Pose Irreversible, what has contributed to the problem can not be fixed, Solutions Require Unique Approaches, and Urgent, they are serious issues everyone is aware of but not many people are acting on them.

When watch the TED talks this week, they had a lot to do with sustainability and wicked problems. Andrew Dent discussed thrift: reduce, reuse, recycle. He explains how we as a people need to use what we have instead of buying it. He provided a necessary example; his grandmother had a string jar, so whenever she receives a string from a gift or a package she would place it in the string jar and use that string instead of buying it. This is a perfect example of thrift; reduce purchase, reuse item, and recycle similar items. He also used kids as an example; kids see the second value in a product. For example, when I was younger, I asked my mom if I could have her old shoe box containers so I could build a house for my pet rock. Andrews point being, all of our current products are replicable in todays era but they do not have to be. Paul Gilding discussed a concept about how the earth is full. Four words: the earth is full, full of us, our stuff, and our waste. We as a human race have created so much stuff our economy is bigger then the planet that holds it. Paul explains how this concept is a science, a true statement, not a philosophical theory. He states, “we are living beyond our means,” and I genuinely do not think we understand this. We are producing and wasting so many things our world can not sustain it. Eventually the world will not have enough room to give.

The Native American perspective on sustainability is this, “Infrastructure and sustainable development are two of the many intertwined threads of our traditional baskets. If infrastructure and sustainable development are to co-exist and co-evolve to form intelligent and pleasing patterns, there must be restraints on infrastructure design and use”(Harris, 1). What the quote explains is in order to work together, creation and sustainability, they must have restrictions and limitations. Our world right now is living with a means to an end. A good example of this “means to an end”phrase is Easter Island. These people used so much of the resources their island had to offer that the ecosystem perished and they had to result to cannibalism to survive.

After understanding wicked problems and sustainability I want to watch my personal carbon footprint more closely. I want to understand how much I am contributing to the environments waste and make simple changes that can make greater improvements in the long run. I feel as if people start rapidly in the process of being more eco-friendly, the rapid change can cause stress in changing routines and cause people to resort back to the easier old habit. In order to truly change your carbon foot print, it is about taking baby steps. The wicked problem I want to explore is avoiding fast fashion. I want to take the advantage of thrift stores and using what I have.



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