At its simplest, sustainability means taking as little as possible from resources that cannot be renewed. A movement without real leaders, it seems to have the greatest resonance on college campuses, always a home for new thinking. Student groups and sessions dedicated to sustainability are flourishing. While some produce little but conversational--and political--gas, others are preaching practical solutions. At Drury University in Missouri, a campus conference on using natural resources ended with a posting of “10 simple ways to support sustainable living in the Ozarks.” Among the suggestions: Shop at local food producers. From “The Greening of America’s Campuses,” New York Times, Jan. 9, 2006
I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.
I’m still getting my feet wet trying to understand just what all the “sustainability” or green movement involves and I’ll bet I’m not alone. However, with all the attention Drury University’s first Habitat for Humanity sustainable house project is getting, I’m educating myself. That’s why I included the excerpt from the Times, which seemed a simple enough explanation of “sustainability” even for me.
Drury’s 1,280 sq. ft., four bedroom, two-story Habitat house will have carpet made from 100% recyclable material, a ground-source heat pump (I had to look that one up and as I understand it, that’s geothermal energy), energy-saving windows and radiant heat in the floors.
I don’t care if you think global warming is real, natural or humankind induced or not. Going “green” and using building practices with sustainable materials makes sense in the long run. Of course, cost is a factor and must be balanced, but we can begin to make changes that will prove we can be wise stewards of God’s Green Earth. And even this morning, I found in my inbox a link to a new survey by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, “The True Costs of Green Building,” which “found that the costs of ‘green’ building are frequently overestimated – often by as much as 300%. The report notes that such misjudgment of the costs of ‘green’ construction creates barriers to more energy efficiency in the building sector.”
What can we do? Something as simple as an old-fashioned clothesline is an energy-saving device. How about recycling rainwater? Ceiling fans? And buy local. I have lost my love affair with China and her cheap products. Maybe it’s time to rethink what we put into our shopping carts and the energy it took to bring the items all the way from the Far East. But the most important thing to me is to encourage our young people to continue along this path of fresh and innovative thinking.