It is no question that the new chic thing in the technology driven American marketplace is fashionable environmentalism. This is not to suggest that environmental attitudes are new by any respect, but more that the corporate scene of investigative marketers have seen the consciousness about the issues have gone from a minuscule group of dreadlock wearing hippies to a larger group of young suburbanites with money to spend. This started an entire market dedicated to “going green.” Now we have ready to eat “organic” frozen food, environmentally friendly cleaning products, and terms like “free trade” and “cruelty free” being brandished on every plastic package. One of the new hype words being utilized during this coporate “green wash” is sustainability. Though it is overused by companies that care more about exploiting consumer’s social conscience than ecological salvation, it is still an increasingly valid and crucial way at looking at our own consumption.
Sustainabillity is an easy concept to grasp on an individual level when it is addressed very simply. What this means is that your consumption is designed to be forever sustainable. That is that the effect on the outside world, and its resources, is done so minorly that you could constantly consume and never run out of the resources you depend on or leave a continually greater destructive effect on the planet. Within this concept we have recycling, reduction of energy uses, composting, and a host of other ideas. What makes this concept great, and the reason it is most likely used out of context by conglomerates fighting over your paycheck, is that this is an easy thing for the individual person to strive for because there are numbers of practical ways they can achieve this.
First, we all know that recycling is important, but a few simple steps can create an infrastructure for it that can make it easy and beneficial. Most cities, and apartment complexes, allow for joint recycling in one single receptacle. Often glass will have to be separated on its own, so two bins are optimum. The kitchen is the largest area of consumptive waste, so a small area of a closet or corner that can be dedicated to two extra waste receptacles will make it that much easier to simply toss cardboard or plastics into these bins. Just leave them out with your garbage, or toss them into the recycling at your lodging.
Likewise, composting is a simple way that you can reduce your deposits into the growing landfill environment. Simply get a receptacle and place all decomposable food items into it. Then either use it in your garden, give it to a friend for theirs, or find out if your city has a community compost pick-up program. This is the definition of sustainability because it uses our waste as a catalyst for producing more plants and food. It helps foster a natural cycle that we have been away from with our trash based culture.
These are simple things, but there are many more that can empower any person to make the concept of sustainability real and practical for their lives. It is everyones responsibility to begin reversing the harm our species has had on the natural world, but that does not have to be an alienating idea at all. Every person can take simple measures to live an ethical lifestyle where their imprint will be less than the generations before them.
This post is part of the series: The Green Home
Practical techniques for adding sustainability to the home.