Sustainability and What I Know About It

Before coming to college, I really knew nothing about sustainability. The only thing my small rural school taught me about it was that I should be recycling paper, but I really had no idea why. After coming to college, I began to learn and realize how large of a role sustainability needs to play in this world, especially through merchandising. To me sustainability is the action of trying to reduce waste. Whether that means using reusable shopping bags or wearing your clothes longer, there are thousands of ways to reduce waste. I still think reducing waste is a huge part of sustainability, but after being in Wicked Problems for two weeks, I now see that sustainability as so much more.

Being sustainable is not only about reducing your waste, it is even more about reducing your usage of nonrenewable resources and non-reusable sources. After reading the “Lessons of Easter Island,” I realized how resources can truly be entirely wiped out if they are not conserved properly. Just imagine, at its peak, Easter Island had 7,000 inhabitants. Add six more zeros and you’ll have the number of people on earth right now, that’s 7 billion. If 7,000 people were able to wipe out the 150 square foot space of Easter Island, I hate to think of what 7 billion people could do to the entire planet in 100 years.

The earth’s environmental regression is clearly a wicked problem. It cannot be reversed, it has no stopping point, there is an indefinite solution and it is very urgent. The 11th Hour made me realize just how urgent it really is. I can’t believe that that movie was made is 2007. In the past 13 years I know our environment has only gotten worse, and it is getting worse, much more quickly now. After watching the movie, I checked my carbon footprint. I received a score of 16. I then did some research for myself and found that the average American’s carbon footprint is 20 metric tonnes per year. Mine is slightly below the average, which I believe is because I do not fly much at all and I do not a have a large meat or dairy intake.

Also, activity one made me realize how wicked problems really do have indefinite solutions. Many of the issues listed, I realized that I could not think of a solution that was actually doable. I also found this problem with solutions while doing the Wildest Things activity because some of he solutions my learning community came up with were outlandish or just not likely in today’s society.

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