Mother Earth. She is all we have. We are reminded of this as we celebrate Earth Day. We hear it all the time; rising sea levels, global warming and going green. The word "sustainability" has become a trendy buzzword that is constantly tossed around. Besides recycling, shoppping at Whole Foods, and using energy efficient light bulbs, does anyone actually know what a sustainable life is?
I know I wasn't fully aware of the defintion until I took a course at DePaul University called Promoting Sustainable Practices.
I used to belive that I wasn't contributing to global warming. I believed that I was living a sustainable life simply by abstaining from meat. I was in for a rude awakening, as there is always so much more that can be done. I drive my Toyota everywhere and constantly emit pollutants, and I don't always carpool. I make regular visits to Starbucks, so my empty, lipstick-stained coffee cups contribute to the ever growing landfills. Let's just say that there are more ways that I can calculate my carbon footprint.
According to the UN World Commission on Enviorment and Development, "Sustainable development is meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
The following are examples of sustainability from M. Nickerson, coordinator for the Guideposts for a Sustainable Future Project.
1. Use materials in continuing cycles.
2. Use continuosuly reliable sources of cycles.
Activities that are sustianable:
1. Require continual inputs of non-renewable resources.
2. Use renewable resources faster than their rate of renewal.
3. Cause cumulative in quantities that could never be sustainable for all people.
4. Require resources in quantities that could never be sustainable for all people.
5. Lead the extinction of other life forms.
Here at Dundee library, we take pride in taking steps towards a sustainable library for every patron that walks through our doors. We use fans to stay cool instead of blasting the A/C; we have switched to eco-friendly cleaning products, recycle ink cartridges, print double sided, and use recycled materials for our crafts in the Youth Department.
Libraries partake in a gifting economy. A gift economy consits of building community and trading valuables without the dependence on a traditional market. It starts like this, we literally "give" each other things that we don't need and give them to other people without investing in consumerism. It reduces our waste production. For examople, a group of neighboors can create a communal agreement stating their needs and wants. I may need to borrow a textbook for class and, in exchange, another person might want me to babysit their children. Another example could be that a neighbor may want to borrow my lawn mower, and I would want to borrow his leaf blower later in the fall. (Because why does every American need to own a lawn mower?)
Gemma Winger, safety monitor for Dundee Library, has estimated that approximately 90% of our garbage is paper and is recycled. "We go out of our way (facilities department) to pull things from the trash that can be recycled. For one thing, we encourage employees touse their own coffee mugs and water bottles."
WInger implemented the importance of enviornmental restoration with her own children. "My children would pick up litter and collect it in an old jewel bag and toss it in the park garbage. They would earn their play time that way, "said Winger.
We can teach our children from an early age the vision of sustainability through books. Classics such as The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, and The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein, introduce these themes. Children are the future and its imperative to inspire them about enviornmental concerns.
Celebrate Earth Day With These Books:
1. Where Does The Garbage Go?
By Paul Showers
2. The Lorax
By Dr. Seuss
3. Curious George Plants a Tree
By Margaret and H.A. Rey
4. Compost Stew
By Mary McKenna Siddals
5. It's Earth Day
By Mercer Mayer