Eco Thinking: Sustainability

The world around us is transforming in many ways, everywhere we look a change is happening.  As we take in all the information, we should take the time and make a change ourselves.  As a society we need to start looking at sustainability and see the whole picture of the implications on all aspects of life.  From our manufactured products to the food that is consumed, all these things are connected.  Sustainability means we need to design better, need to build better, need to manufacture better and need to grow better.  In better I mean, thinking of designing things with no hazardous material, building things with the environment and people’s health in mind, manufacturing products that will not cause toxins from manufacturing to the grave in landfills and growing foods that will not hurt people and the environment.

Organization working together and supporting each other is very important.  Collaboration is a word that needs to be imbedded into our vocabulary and way of life.   Working together to start a change not only helps others but also can help a company’s bottom line.  As we all start to make these changes and ask for others to do the same, companies will start seeing this demand and develop products to support it.   

Sustainability is not only about our natural environment.  Sustainable practices protect human health and quality of life.  Sustainability in Social Corporate Responsibility in today’s changing market will not only benefit a company’s bottom line but also help others.  An Example of a company is Perkins + Will, this is a firm that understands how sustainability and corporate social responsibility affects us all.  This company is a carbon-neutral organization and is committed to supporting a diverse culture of sustainable design through applied research, internal education, public advocacy and outreach.  

Sustainability is very important to a business as it involves people, it involves our planet, it involves profit and making sure they all work together.  Sustainable practices protect our health, our children's health and insure that we have healthy people on a healthy planet.  Understanding that there are synergies in everything that we do and that supporting one thing will affect another is important.  Example, Advocating a program that supports locally grown organic foods and having them be available to people in all financial groups will not only lower our carbon foot print, support local business but help fight child obesity and disease. 

As a global community, it is time to take the lead for our planet and our children’s future.  All industries are affected in this area and understanding that all of us can make a difference is key.  As consumers we need to start supporting local organic farmers and eco products.  Starting this trend will show businesses that this kind of product is in demand and more will be on the market thus reducing pricing for such items.  As business owners, we will need to build sustainability practices into our business and collaborate with others who do the same.  Companies that do this will educate their employees on the subject and the collaboration can form partnerships to reduce pricing for the consumer and secure contracts that might have been lost to others.  As parents we need to educate our children on how eco thinking helps us and other living things.  Educating our children is of great importance on all levels as they are the future.

I am not a tree hugger or an extremist on the subject but a realist on what needs to happen.  In today’s market, the change is coming and having companies be leaders on this subject will only be a benefit for them.  Looking at the world around us and taking in the information is important.  Is it right to have lead in our children’s toys where they put them in their mouths and get poisoned?  Is it right that when a company manufactures a product it pollutes the drinking waters of the surrounding area to cause harm to the people and eco system around them?  Is it right to have hormones, pesticides and chemicals in our foods that is causing disease?  Is it right to have products in our home that emit toxins that we and our children breath?

With today’s technology and available information on sustainable practices, we can change our built environment to have none of the above questions ever uttered.  As designers, business owners, contractors, engineers, consumers it is our responsibility to start specifying, supporting and working with groups that are pushing sustainability.  It is one of the most exciting and thrilling times we live in because all decisions that are being made have an impact; and as individuals we have a say to make a difference. Don’t wait for others to take a lead, pave the road.

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