"Sustainable development is...development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of further generations to meet their own needs."â€¨- World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, 1987
These words give a brief summary of sustainability and its relevance to our everyday lives. We must realize the importance of our environment and how our actions affect all aspects of it. A good way for everyone to be involved with the sustainability of the environment is to think about our consumption. Think about your activities throughout the day. Lets take a look at a typical day for Joe:
This morning, Joe drove 3 blocks to Starbucks/Caribou/Dunn Broâ€™s etc. (whichever one was serving a dark roast) and bought his usual cup of coffee and scone. Upon leaving, Joe threw away his empty cup and half eaten scone, still residing in its bag. Joe got back into his car, and drove 3 miles into the city to go to work. Along the way, Joe passed several public transit buses.
Throughout the day at his boring office job, Joe tried out his basketball skills by tossing paper ball after paper ball into the garbage. After realizing he wasnâ€™t anywhere near Kobeâ€™s skill, Joe gave up and just dumped his unneeded documents in the garbage can.
For lunch, Joe drives from work to a nearby restaurant. He eats his usual Big Mac with fries and a coke from MickeyDâ€™s. He throws all of his wrappers, containers and soda can into the garbage. Joe gets back into his car, and drives the 4 blocks back to work.
After work, Joe drives to the supermarket. He picks out several non-recyclable containers (because they are not as expensive). At the checkout, Joe opts for his usual plastic bag, because he just doesnâ€™t want to pay the 50 cents for a reusable cloth one.
Before bed, Joe takes a luxurious shower. Heâ€™s careful to shampoo his hair twice, because thatâ€™s what the bottle says. Joe then shaves his beard stubble and brushes his teeth; all the while the water is running. Joe lies down on his bed and turns the television on. Then Joe falls asleep (with the T.V. on).
Although this may not be a typical schedule for everyone, the main point is still there. Everyday, we are given choices. These decisions can either help or harm our environment. As a general rule: consumption produces trash. On average, a person throws away roughly 4.5 pounds of garbage everyday (1).
"Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations."
â€” Jean Paul Richter
Thinking about the unnecessary things we consume and throw-away everyday can help us understand and value our environment. Like this quote says, we do not need to wait for something extraordinary in order to help out our environment. What we do in our everyday routines is much more important. By remembering the 3Râ€™s we can make our environment much more sustainable and secure its well-being for future generations. Reducing, reusing, and recycling are easy ways for everyone to become involved.
In 2005, Jack Johnson released â€śSing-a-Long Songs and Lullabies for the Film Curious Georgeâ€?. On this CD was the track â€śThe 3Râ€™sâ€?. Jack uses music with a message to teach kids to be aware of their everyday actions and how that can affect the environment.
Well, if you're going to the market to buy some juice
You've got to bring your own bags and you learn to reduce your waste
And if your brother or your sister's got some cool clothes
You could try them on before you buy some more of those
Reuse, we've got to learn to reuse
And if the first two R's don't work out
And if you've got to make some trash
Don't throw it out
Recycle, we've got to learn to recycle (3)
Even though this song is directed at kids, its message applies to adults as well.
Pictures A and B are good examples of our lack of concern for the environment. In picture A, young children are playing around bags of trash out in the streets. Obviously this is not a suitable environment for any child. In picture B, there are heaps of trash and garbage that have washed up on the shores. Often times, animals get caught on these particles and die (as shown in Picture C).
Until we are aware of the impact we have on our environment, we are going to continue to consume our resources and trash our earth.