J500 Media and the Environment

Moving to Sustainability in a Consumer Society by hollyee

California Condor courtesy of San Diego Zoo.

California Condor courtesy of San Diego Zoo.

Sustainability is critical to giving our children an Earth worth inheriting. I came of age as an environmental junkie in the Reagan era of materialism. It was hard to eat yogurt with chopsticks when your friends were working on their stock portfolios. Today, the triple bottom line is what companies are told to strive to achieve.

I see sustainability as living a life that makes conscious choices about the use of resources. Whenever possible, I hope people think like the Native Americans did and use everything, not thinking of anything as expendable. This includes people.

On a recent visit to California, I saw some California condors at the San Diego Zoo. I had seen one of the few still living in the wild in 1977. It took a tremendous effort to rescue the condor from the brink of extinction to the 300 birds living today.

What do the condors have to do with sustainability? They have lived in California since the dawn of time. We led them to their fate and we can lead them out. Maybe we are learning that we can’t put toxic chemicals into the food chain, poison our water supplies and alter ecosystems.

Most green messages have gone mainstream, and corporate America is taking notice. It takes money and/or regulations for businesses to change. It is heartening to me to see people looking at recycling beyond the curbside into programs like Freecycle.

Where we haven’t done too well is understanding that people are a resource, too. I have a disabled son, and society still thinks warehousing people like him and the elderly is the way to go. Despite our laws and supposed “awareness,” few days go by when someone doesn’t shun my son or ask when I will place him in a home. My son says he wants to work with trucks when he grows up. Hopefully by the time he grows up, the world will know what he already does, that the world is better with him actively involved.
Holly E.


6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hi Holly,

Your post reminds me that all initiatives need short-term and long-term goals. As you mentioned, there were many other problems requiring attention that indirectly or slowly progressed to solving the greater issue of condor conservation. Sustainability isn’t just one place or action in time. It’s a collective effort by manufacturers, marketers and consumers. I hope all are willing to participate sooner rather than later.

-Monica Delaorra-

Comment by monicadela

Absolutely agree that a collective effort is what is needed. Neither the government nor companies can do it alone, and we must find a way for everyone to participate in some way. I think of it like getting people to use seatbelts–it needs to be an attitude shift that becomes a habit.
Holly E

Comment by hollyee


I’m a big animal lover myself, and always appreciate success stories about how we were able to make changes to save the extinction of a species.
While at times I wonder about our species being able to save ourselves from extinction, I’m fairly confident we’ll make the necessary changes, make room for others, and still be consumers.
There will have to be a lot of changes, and hopefully we won’t put them off too long, but is there really any reason to doubt it at this point?

Comment by davemd

There have been so many success stories of rescuing mammals that I think of it as almost a dry run for rescuing humans. I hope people connect the dots and see that when we destry mammal habitat, the mammals struggle to survive.
Holly E

Comment by hollyee

Hi Holly,

Wow, not only did you see one of the world’s bet zoo’s in San Diego but your perception of gas guzzlers verses energy efficient cars is right on. While California’s atmosphere is more liberal than the rest of the U.S., it would appear that green has gone mainstream – especially with Obama’s consistent energy messages. But I have to disagree on green messages going mainstream. If this were true, more people would have energy efficient cars in other states and more sustainable products would be more prominently placed within large retail stores (Home Depot, Target, etc.). In answer to your question, yes we can be sustainable as consumers as long as retailers are offering sustainable products at competitive prices.

Christine W.

Comment by christinewerem

You are so right about the sustainable products at a reasonable price and with some encouragement. One of the other things I enjoyed was that the San Diego Zoo took sustainability into its food service area. The products were all from recycled or sustainable material, including the cutlery. My daughter decided to try and eat the fork made from corn starch! It was a great way for an environmental organization to practice what it preaches and let people see they can take steps also.
Holly E.

Comment by hollyee

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