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Ideals of Sustainability

I love articles that make people feel really good about what they are doing, then nudge them towards doing even better… 

Remember the first time you recycled? Suddenly, you were part of a small but vastly important crusade.

Setting that blue crate at the roadside, you felt world-wise and sophisticated. Mother Earth began to gaze more fondly on you.

Today, recycling is just a drop in the rain barrel of eco-friendly practices that have become more common, and thus, gentler on the pocketbook. In an age when stores like The Home Depot have begun to offer all-natural insect repellents, organic plant food and vegetables in biodegradable pots, jumping on the green bandwagon could be easier than ever.

Footprints in the land: Towns, groups strive to decrease environmental impact – Oakbrook Terrace, IL – Oakbrook Terrace Press

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Articles like this are becoming more and more common as the general public is made more aware of the issues facing our world as we spiral into toxic chaos, at least I think that’s one opinion of what is likely to happen if it’s not a nuclear war.

Informing the public of ways to beat the impending doom make for great articles, there are whole blogs dedicated to it, such as groovygreen.com, worldchanging.com and others. Unfortunately, as is often pointed out in the comments on many of these blogs, the small steps we can take really are not enough, or in some cases may not be any more sustainable than what was previously being done.

Steps by governments to ban incandescent lightbulbs appear noble, and do achieve a level of goodness, but with fuel subsidies still creating an uneven playing field for all energy sources and minimal accounting for polluting the atmosphere, particularly in developing countries, can banning lightbulbs really solve the problem?

Small steps, however small, are still steps, hopefully in the right direction, it shard to berate someone for doing something, when to them, the alternative is doing nothing.

I’m seeing that my life does matter, people listen to me as an engineer and someone with authority and knowledge, I can make a difference through how I choose to save energy, but to be most effective in this role, I need to make more than just small steps. Choosing not to drive to work, choosing to eat locally produced food, as well as choosing to grow our own fruit and veggies all makes a difference. These are some of the steps we are taking to improve our sustainability. How about you?

 

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.