Sustainability – a household word these days, but what exactly does it mean? These days many organizations have sustainability initiatives, a very good sign in this world of human-induced climate change and a rate of extinction unsurpassed since the demise of the dinosaurs 100’s of millions of years ago. The devil is in the details however – every individual has a different definition of the word “sustainable” – often called “green”. Have you ever received an advertising brochure in the mail claiming that the use of 30% recycled paper saved 245 trees? What about the 500 that were lost to make the same brochure?
Try the following exercise – take a look into the eyes of your kids or grandchildren if you are lucky enough to have them. Then ask yourself what you would like the world to look like 40 or so years from now. Would there be wars over land, oil or water? Would the society be made up of rich and poor, or mostly “middle-class”? How many human beings would exist? Would species still be going extinct at 10’s of thousands of times the natural rate? How much of the land would be in pristine condition? Would the recently lost 90% of large fish in the sea have returned? When you have this picture in your mind, work backwards – what steps does this mean we need to be taking, and what role do you need to play?
Today I went to a food court in a public place I often enjoy with my 3-year old child, one that prides itself on environmental education for youth. As usual, when I ordered my food I passed them a dish that I brought from home and asked that they serve my food on this versus disposable plates. The cashier said “that’s nice to see that you are trying to save the environment” and promptly gave me a discount on my food. 5 minutes later they called my number there was my food – on a disposable plate! It seems the people in the kitchen were not used to people with “strange” requests like mine. You see – sometimes I lose and sometimes I win, but it does not help to cry about it – much better to learn to play the game. I’ll never give up – because I know what kind of world I want. Do you?
Russel Horwitz, Principal