Sustainability is a word that comes up quite frequently in my life whether at school, work, or in social settings, and nonetheless has always been a confusing concept to me. While there are many definitions and ways to describe what makes something sustainable or not, the gist of what I gather from it is to utilize resources or partake in activities that meet the needs of the present without compromising the future needs of others.
That concept sounds great, but at the same time is very deceiving because everybody has different wants, needs, and perceptions as to what is important in protecting and sustaining. I believe that it started out with good intentions, but is now a term that has been so green-washed that it has become a buzzword which serves as a safety net to make one feel less bad about their actions.
Take recycling as an example. This may be considered a sustainable alternative to throwing waste away in the trashcan which would otherwise go into the landfill. While it is way better option, it fails to shed light onto the bigger picture with our waste issue. The true root of this problem comes from our consumption of resources. Recycling gives this false idea that we are doing our part in society and being ‘sustainable’, so it is ok to keep consuming. But it still partakes in this linear fashion, because it is designed for the trash.
When I personally think of sustainability I like to consider nature and how it operates in a cyclical manner. Everything is connected and nothing is ever wasted because once something is done serving its purpose, it is then reintegrated back into the system as something new. We need to start observing ecological design and considering what would nature do when creating systems whether they are social, environmental, or economic. Because if we’re not thinking in a cyclical manner that is regenerative, than everything else is just degenerative in some way or another, which brings me to my next topic.
In our class discussion regarding sustainability being a scam, I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Being sustainable by causing less harm from a choice made still doesn’t completely rid harm. So when one thinks they are being sustainable they are ultimately just being less degenerative, not sustainable. This notion is also skewed because it prolongs the degenerative system by making these poor habits last longer, rather than arriving at solutions by addressing roots causes and implementing regenerative systems.
Another interesting topic discussed was about education and that it too can operate in a linear, degenerative fashion. This is because in many cases it is top bottom, where information is exchanged from professor to student. The educational system is degenerative and reminds me of a field only consisting of mono crops. The whole approach to education is based on conformity and promotes what everybody has in common. A massive number of students are placed into the system to observe, memorize, and repeat, then thrown out of the system as quickly as possible to repeat the same process all over again. It doesn’t work because the whole approach to education misunderstands how humans actually operate and we are not treated as the unique and diverse individuals that we are.