Sustainability involves death. You might be thinking that is a bit counter intuitive. When we hear the word sustainability we most often think about something lasting. However, that is just one aspect; true sustainability involves so much more. Nature teaches us that nothing truly can last forever in a single form.
Consider how things change…
- We have 4 seasons each year.
- The weather continues to shift and change as it pleases.
- The water and waves wash onto the shore only to be swept back into the sea.
- The sun rises in the east each morning then sets along the western skyline.
About the only thing that is truly permanent is change and the cycles of life! I’ve never had a “new” anything that kept it’s “newness”. I’ve never visited any place that didn’t look different with the passing of time each time I returned.
So what does it really mean to be, and live, sustainably?
In my opinion it takes an understanding that the earth is alive. It takes respecting the fact that products and inventions are created, and they (just like nature), will deteriorate and return to the earth. It is not something that MIGHT happen, it is something that WILL happen.
I tell people this…
“The only thing live plants need in order to survive is the decomposition of dead plants,
aka organic matter or compost. “
In the beginning there was nothing and everything. Mankind figured out how to build and create. Stone, then straw and wood. Being a Landscaper was not my initial goal. As a kid I remember wanting to be a carpenter. I wanted to build and create. Landscaping was what I settled into because I learned from my dad how to work outside. I discovered how to improve the aesthetics around my home and yard. I digress; let me get back to the issue of sustainability.
Wood, as dimensional lumber, is still hugely popular as a building material and I assume that it will be for some time to come. It is sustainable. We grow trees for harvesting. Once harvested, the wood is milled and utilized for a multitude of purposes. Those uses have evolved over the years as sustainability practices have improved.
First we have pressure treated wood. This evolved from our desire to slow the natural deterioration process. The chemicals used are harmful to the so called “pests” that feed on the wood. This makes the wood last longer and slows the need for harvesting more natural resources.
Some is used for composite decking. This was developed as a means to give a bit of permanence to wood. Much of today’s composite decking is actually made from recycled plastic bags and a blend of recycled wood pulp. It assists us with not having the need to develop, grow and or exploit new raw materials and other goods. It is sustainable!
There are also several other inventions like PVC decking, bamboo decking and unique products like Nyloboard. These boards are made from recycled carpet fibers. Pretty neat stuff!
When I was a kid growing up here in the states, everyone had carpet in their homes. Wall to wall carpet was the norm. These days many folks are more interested in hardwood floors, or laminate, if not concrete and tile.
My point in all of this is to say that there is no ultimate evil when it comes to manufacturing. As mankind evolves we are merely seeking to develop and create sustainable products that will both suffice for whatever the intended purpose is as well as generate the capital needed to maintain and build businesses, while also supporting the global economy.
In the United States we’ve become accustom to recycling, reusing, and manufacturing our new products with formerly used products (our waste). Our sustainability, and global health, require us to do this. We must continue to seek out better ways to create a greener environment, and do less damage in the process. My hope is that every person reading this blog will begin using the word “sustainability” in your regular vocabulary.
Then put that word to use by taking action on the following questions:
1. How can I personally assist nature and be a part of the natural solution?
2. How can I relate to others and build relationships that are sustainable?
3. How do the products that I buy and use support our local, regional and global sustainability?
You will begin to notice your life moving in cycles is you do this. Recycling bottles, Reusing shopping bags at the grocery store, saving scraps for your compost pile, etc. That is completely normal. Remember that things come and go, it is what we do at the end of their life cycle that contributes to sustainability. After all, to quote myself…
“The thought of any product living and existing forever is scary and in no way sustainable.”
-Ahmed Hassan Celebrity Landscaper