Sustainability feels like the ripples of water in a giant pond. I can control what I recycle, reuse and don’t use, then support my family in the same efforts, then direct employees to make environmentally responsible decisions, then participate in city initiatives, then fight coal plants in Kansas and then advocate and learn from national and international projects. Each reaching a little farther out.
When I get to the city ripple, in my case, it starts to get choppy. Kansas City has an initiative program called Sustainable Skylines- Kansas City that delineates a commitment to sustainability by Kansas City leadership and lists ways that individuals can help, but it’s a little underwhelming. The EPA invested a whopping $225,000 in the project and hopes to reduce emissions, without a timeline, in just a couple of areas. But Kansas City (Missouri) also introduced curbside recycling only eight years ago, well after cities like San Francisco and Seattle and its suburbs had long successfully executed systems in waste management, and now have even moved to goals of zero waste. No leapfrogging in Kansas City. We sort of went with the early 1980’s model and remain there today. When I visit my aunt and take out the trash in Alameda County, in the San Francisco Bay Area, I wonder why Kansas City just didn’t “pick-up” there. Perhaps I should find out and stop kvetching?
Fortunately, the current of sustainability continues beyond this metro around the world. The Sears Tower (now Chicago’s “Big Willie”, Willis Center) and the Empire State Building are making big changes in honor of sustainability, farmers are working on new methods of land sustainability while feeding the world and developments like the Lifestraw set goals like, “reducing by one-half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe water by the year 2015.”
Dictionary.com defines sustainability in part as: To support from below; keep from falling or sinking; prop. The concentric circles for sustainability, whether the motive is economical, ecological or self- transcendence, is still centered in not sinking today and propping things up for a more powerful tomorrow.
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