Don’t carbon copy my carbon footprint

When I attended OSU as a Marketing major, I learned what sustainability meant from a management standpoint and understood exactly what it meant from the beginning and it changed how I lived my life from that lecture, on. Wow! I wish I could write that and have it be the truth. Honestly, I understood Sustainability to mean recycling all of the empty water bottles on Earth and that we should all be using the refill stations that were set up on campus to fill up our own aluminum receptacles. I also understood that OSU has a really great program for Sustainability and a club that is passionate about recycling. While this information was not necessarily incorrect, it was most certainly not the entire story and was just the tip of the iceberg when beginning to describe it. This definition, for me, has completely evolved into understanding that it’s not at all about “recycling” and being “eco-friendly”, it’s about making smart choices for the planet, that do not hinder it’s future, while still continuing to “sustain” life as we know it as much as possible. So yes, we should use reusable water bottles above plastic ones, but sustainability is something that we should all be much more intentional with in our day-to-day lives. As pointed out in The 11thHour, a documentary about the reality of where the earth’s ecosystems are in present day, nature is seen as a separate entity from humans and seen as something that we do not need and we’re not a part of. However, this is simply not true. We need the Earth for our survival more than it’s ecosystems need us. The sooner that we, as a human race, accept this, the faster we can take steps to improve on what our generations will inherit. For instance, Easter Island has shown us what a society can do when everyone is competing with one another, rather than joining forces to save the environment for everyone. We are constantly competing in our society in almost everything that we do, in business, in sports, in school, in lifestyles, we are a culture of people who are constantly competing. This is not good for the planet because it creates more problems, fewer ways to solve those problems, and no way to stop this cycle. It is creating the very definition of a Wicked Problem, there is not one way to solve it, not everyone agrees on where exactly the problem lies, and you can’t tell exactly who, what, when, or where it started. Wicked problems have vague problem definitions (for example: while one person may see the amount of oil that is being drilled as a problem, a big oil company would argue that ceasing would create a bigger problem), no one can agree on what the exact problem is. Varying solutions are wicked because one solution for one person could prove catastrophic for another or the environment. A wicked problem is never ending because once one problem is solved, another arises, and it’s an ongoing battle with the same underlying problem. A wicked problem poses irreversible effects, a solution might be decided on, but it’s consequences are permanent and unable to be solved. A wicked problem is urgent – it cannot be ignored and will not go away and its effects will result in harm to the human race.  On Easter Island, a major downfall was the competition they had with one another and no one could agree on how to fix it, where the problem was, or whose fault it is. Just like the status of Earth today – no one knows how to fix the problems we face, we just know there is a problem and no one can agree on where to begin solving it, and every person’s solution, is another man’s problem. Easter Island is no more than a cautionary tale and it’s exactly where we will be if we don’t learn from their mistakes. A huge problem that exists is that individuals do not believe that they are not alone the problem, or that they’re able to make a difference so they don’t even try. Self-narrative is the number one thing that needs to change in order to shift the paradigm. A small change is required in every person in order to make a bigger change. For example, my personal carbon footprint reflects that I am 2% below the average carbon footprint in my area. I could look at this easily and say, “I’m not the problem because I’m below the average.” However, it is imperative that I look at where I have room to improve and make a conscious effort to improve my own carbon footprint so that I can improve my contribution for myself, my community, and those who will come after me. It is my responsibility to contribute to leaving the world in a better spot than how it was given to me. As time increases, more fossil fuels are burned, more waste is created due to the increasing population, it may not be feasible to leave the world better than we got it because of the increase in consumption; but if each person thought this way, the world would be in a better spot than it would be if we continued treating it without thoughts of sustainability. 

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