Monday, December 09, 2013

Keep Moving Forward! A Letter for the Future.

Dear Blogosphere,

It is now December…And I am finishing up my first semester of college!! Exams (well, a truckload of assignments for us design students) are wrapping up around here and well, so is my Sustainable Practices class. And this is going to be my last post that I'll be doing for marks, so I want to just finish with a fireworks-show-like post of ideas, feelings and final thoughts (again, I'm not going anywhere, but, you know, for the sake of wrapping up this lovely class)!

To set the record straight for my (imaginary) readers, I do try to practice what I preach! This blog was not motivated by marks (sure, that was the reason to start it, though), but it was kept going by a real passion I have for the Earth. I mean, if you have any sense of self-preservation or hope for your future or any of your descendants' futures, or perhaps you fear the wrath of God or Bambis United (not real, but could be!), then surely, surely, you must feel some sort of urge to protect the one and only planet we can live on (I love science and it's fun where we are heading, but let's not get ahead of ourselves here!). 

You never know.

Earth is home.
Your home is on Earth.
You live off the Earth.
You need the Earth.
The Earth needs you.

I really don't know how else I can drive this home, guys! I have loads of friends who get it, but I have met just as many people who straight-up dismiss this train of thought! 

Like, are you in denial? Or do you really have a death wish?

Because, news flash buddy, don't spit where you eat! (Bambi, no swearing, check and check. You can read this to your kids!) If you destroy this planet, there really, reeeeeaallly is NOWHERE ELSE you can go. This world isn't a piece of paper you can scrap and start over with. This is a complex but delicate planet.

Look, do you wanna end up like this guy???

Btw, this is from an awesome, iconic 
children's book: The Giving Tree. Read it, love it, live it!
Or watch this narrative here.

Wow, and I just found this beautiful short film:

What I am desperately trying to drive home here (on this blog, in my own life...) is that:

Being Earth-concious is not Optional.

We are all here. On this planet. We aren't going anywhere else anytime soon. What about that is so hard to understand? We are all responsible. We are all accountable. We are all to blame for whatever Earth-damaging things each of us do, each and every moment. For example, I am currently typing away on this fancy-schmancy laptop, that's currently sucking up loads of energy and is gonna needlessly end up in a landfill a few years down the road, I am sitting in an excessively lit campus while dressed head-to-toe in some totally unsustainably-sourced garb. But we can't help but have at least some kind of carbon footprint (even Bambi leaves a trail!) The biggest difference between being proactive and being a jerk, in this case, is recognizing that you are, in fact, a part of the problem. Then you have got to realize that you need to be a part of the solution. That, dearie, is called accountability. And it is, in my opinion, the biggest step we can take (individually and together) to start mending the hole we seared in our lovely Earth.

Once someone has recognized the ways in which they contribute to the bigger problem, it is my hope that they also see the many, many ways in which they can start solving it, each and every step of their day. I don't feel compelled to list these things, as a quick Google search will yield far better (and admittedly repetitive) lists than one of my own making. But, my humble list and I do have a challenge for you. Yes, You. And I mean You. Here are three simple things I insist that anybody (that can read this blog) can do to save our damn planet.


1. Turn off the Tap. 
If you don't already, have your tap turned off while you brush your teeth. I cry when I see people NOT do this—true story—because if you don't, you are a class-A jerk! If you do do this, congrats! Now try graduating to turning off the tap when you lather too! Whether it's your dishes, in the shower or just doing the twenty-second hand-scrub, please just do it! You don't need a soothing waterfall sound to assist you in soaping up, okay? You just don't.

Say it with me.

2. Turn off the Lights.
I literally feel pain whenever I drive by the local recreation centre and my old high
school each night. Why? Because it's always lit up like Christmas in there! Every last corner is lit up! But we can control our own houses. Personally, I've learned to use artificial light sparingly (it's not always the prettiest!) Now, I'm not advocating that you wander around the dark all night, what I suggest is using the minimum light you need, and only when/where you need it. It's simple, you leave a room, hit the light switch on the way out! The same applies to display screens too (computer screens, TV screens, etc.) Ready to graduate from that? Grab some lamps and use them as focused mood/task lighting. It's sooo much more ambient and stylish to have the right light for everything rather than having a big nasty white light in the middle of the whole space (this isn't Criminal Minds, buddy!) If you wanna go even further (further than, I must admit, I have even gone), install dimmer switches everywhere! You can go from a candle-lit dinner effect to a workstation-calibre lighting situation in no time!

A cozy den vs. fluorescent office? A dramatic example, yes. But it still illustrates the 
difference between effective lighting and icky slap-'em-up-and-we're-done lighting!

3. Get a reusable water bottle. 
Good for your health, good for the environment, good for your wallet, good for your reputation—a real win-win-win-win!
Here's a little (big) tip about reusable water bottles: 
I really love water. Like, I'm addicted. I literally need to have some water (and lip balm...and a cardigan...) with me at all times to keep me comforted. And there is no way I would EVER carry a flimsy little disposable water bottle with me (a. makes me look obnoxious and ignorant to the global predicament! b. hello, bad side effects of that nasty plastic. c. spring water tastes disgusting to me, like it was used to boil broccoli). But I can also attest to the expense and irritation that is carrying a fancy-schmancy reusable water bottle with me. I have shattered them, cracked them, broken their caps/handles/whatever or even just hated the germ-carrying nooks and crannies they possess. 
Look, if you are carrying your water bottle everywhere, you don't want a dainty little daisy princess like this, do you?

Tempting aren't they, though?

Well, I knew that would never work for me, so when my last Proper Water Bottle broke a couple years ago and I was left with nothing at the last minute, I scooped up a Thermos! Yup, the mighty Thermos! These things are brilliant! I have dropped mine from all sorts of heights, have left it out in all sorts of temperatures and have taken it with me wherever, but this thing is still perfection. Sure it has a bunch of scratches and a few dents, but I love it! It's narrow and portable, it's so easy-going and super versatile. I  can easily keep water at any temperature I want (to suit any season) and I never have to watch out for the bottle. It's just brilliant.

Okay, I just realized my little side-track convo turned into a total sermon on the virtues of Thermoses but, my point is, you don't need to decode complicated water bottle types (BPA-free, squeeze bottle, little sippy-spout-thing, etc.) Just grab a good, trusty old Thermos and you can't go wrong! And Thermoses can be really pretty too! I mean, I have a simple, plain old silver one because…well, I think I developed an emotional attachment with it (wasn't kidding about loving water!) but you can buy coloured Thermoses or ones with elegant scrolling patterns on it, if that's your thing!

A Thermos for you, a Thermos for me, a Thermos for everybody!

The whole gist of this lecture is that you CAN use a reusable water-bottle because it CAN be simple as a Thermos and you can fill it with whatever kind of water you enjoy (filtered, flavoured…tap?). Please, please just don't be the insensitive jerk who still ends his/her day by crushing yet another flimsy disposable water bottle in their hand (feel that crunch? that's the Earth you're crushing!)

You. Have. No. Excuse.

On that note, I'd like to reaffirm my own goals for sustainability and how I imagine it playing out in my own future. As an interior designer, I believe it will be my duty to incorporate sustainability into my work. For me, it really is the only way to go! This can come in the form of choosing/recommending sustainable finishes and furniture to keeping up with all the new developments in the world of eco-friendly goodness.

As Frank Lloyd Wright declared:
"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature."

So, here's to trying new things and keeping an open mind! Stay Green and Keep Moving Forward!


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