J500 Media and the Environment

Sustainability = Constant Change by Dave Dunn

My personal definition of sustainability is: Constantly lessening environmental impacts to the point where needs are, and will always be, met.


Leapfrogging, or Leapsheeping here

As I sit here in our office/basement for yet another afternoon of environmental videos and readings, I’m often distracted by our “new” bookshelf, and thinking about what the hell I’m going to do with the coffee table that’s way too big for our living room. But one thing that really stuck with me from the videos & readings was Steffan’s discussion about leapfrogging…and that’s the basis of my definition of sustainability.

Why not bypass older ways of doing things if they are less efficient, more expensive, and polluting, and go directly on to more advanced and/or environmentally friendly ones? It’s sad to think we’re sitting around with solutions to environmental problems going unused, like technology to halt global warming.

Can change happen overnight and the planet be eternally sustainable? Doubt it. The “constantly lessening” part of my definition portrays a realistic approach. It means utilizing all available technology and methods to reduce impact. Maybe we should no longer tolerate the excuse of ignorance .

On a individual level, my definition means lessening your impact every year, if not every month or every day. What really was struck me from Leonard’s discussion was that 99% of consumer goods are thrown out in 6 months. That seems to be one way to measure sustainability progress. And I believe in many ways being more thrifty is also just being smarter.

Our semi-recycled bookshelf

Our recycled bookshelf

In our case, our “new” bookshelf is actually our old desk (with the exception of a few pieces of hardware needed to attach it to the wall).

Scrapile storage shelf

Scrapile storage shelf

I used the other remaining hardware from the old desk and scrap wood from a friend to make a new shelf in our storage room. Now I’m thinking about what to with that darn coffee table.

Our recycling of household/building materials is no where near the level or ambitions of Scrapile of Brooklyn as discussed by Seireeni. And I don’t think we’re anywhere near the point of sustainable living to ensure needs will always be met. I don’t know what that point is, but if everyone constantly makes progress maybe we’ll never know…and that’s the point of sustainability, right?

-Dave D.


3 Comments so far
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I agree with your statement that maybe we should no longer tolerate the excuse of ignorance. It’s one thing to not know about something and another to know of it but not take the time to educate oneself about it. I know at my last job if I were to use the excuse, “I don’t know how to do that,” without an attempt to educate myself on how to do something, I would have been fired. I guess there’s really no such thing as firing someone from whether or not they are an educated, morally sustainable person, but the excuse of ignorance is one that annoys me. How has this excuse of ignorance become acceptable and what can we do to make it not okay?

On another note, like you, I was also surprised to learn from The Story of Stuff that 99 percent of consumer goods are thrown out in just six months time. I was really inspired by the story of Scrapile and am now looking for what I can do to repurpose some old furniture I have from college. I love that you’ve used your old furniture and repurposed it into bookshelves and storage shelves in your house. I did some research and found an article for what you could do with your oversized coffee table. You may also be able to use the wood (assuming the coffee table is made out of wood?) for a small step stool or a small desk for your kiddo to use when he/she is older. You may also ask Angela if she has any ideas. Her post on what she’s done to repurpose many things in her garage was really interesting to me.

-Erin P.


Comment by erinleap

Hey Erin! You just really gave me an idea for our coffee table. I checked out that ehow site, started cruising around, and found some guidance to build something my wife’s been saying we’ll need for the shorty. I’ll probably have to get my hands a little dirty to cut-up and re-purpose the coffee table…and I guess I’ll be getting my hands dirty even when it’s done. 🙂 Dave D.

Comment by davemd

Erin–here’s the link to my project. Thanks again for the inspiration…I think.


Comment by davemd

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