Groking Sustainability–Part Two

I’m sitting in my favorite wireless cafe, Two Alices Coffee Lounge, in Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY. There’s just the right amount of ambient noise–the steam of the expresso machine, music of Sufjan Stevens, multiple conversations, dishes and coffee cups clattering. This is the perfect spot to continue a dialogue about sustainability, in part because the owners of Two Alices, Edda and Melinda, are doing what they can to be “ecologically correct.” No plasticware here–except for “to go” and even then, Edda has given us stainless and just asked that we return it. Floors and cabinetry are bamboo and the piece de la resitance is their recyling bin–custom made of bamboo where dishes, paper, plastic and glass each have their own place.

Right now, I hope you’ll grab a cup of your favorite coffee or tea and relax for a moment. If you haven’t done this already, take a listen to Ray Anderson on the subject of sustainability by using this link to the Case Western Media Library.

Ray Anderson is the founder of Interface, Inc., one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers. He was a keynote speaker at the Business as an Agent of World Benefit Conference in October at Case Western University and as a self-proclaimed “radical industrialist” he spoke eloquently about climbing “Mount Sustainability.”

His dreams and plans for Interface in the year 2020 are bold. He describes the seven faces of Mount Sustainability in this way:

Zero Impact
Eliminate Waste
Control/ Eliminate Emissions
Cut the Fossil Fuel Umbilical Cord
Cut the Umbilical Cord to Earth for Raw Materials
Re-tool Transportation to be Carbon Neutral
Create a Culture Shift by Redesigning Commerce

According to Anderson, “the triple bottom line done right will come together in a sustainable bottom line.”

In the same way that Interface, Inc. has created a forward-thinking plan to impact these areas at the corporate level, I wonder how each one of us can impact these areas at a personal level. What jumps out at me immediately is ELIMINATE WASTE.

About five years ago, Cornwall began picking up paper and cardboard waste at the curb to be recycled along with plastics and glass. Our household and office now generate almost two large plastic storage bins full of paper and cardboard waste weekly. This does not include what we shred. We stopped the newpaper and read the news online. The bulk of what goes to the curb is junk mail…a relentless barage of circulars and credit card offers. We fill one oversize garbage can with glass and plastic every other week and roughly one garbage can every other week with what’s left over. I am militant about using canvas bags for groceries and have not been successful in converting the rest of my family. We collect and recycle an overstuffed plastic grocery bag full of compressed plastic bags monthly. This is just a portion of our waste–the portion that we know how dispose of.

In our garage, there are shelves of outdated, outmoded electronic equipment. The idea of putting it in a landfill years ago was unthinkable. We’ve given away and donated what we can–what do we do with the rest? How do we eliminate waste?

By 2020, can you personally climb the seven faces of Mount Sustainability?

What can you do today to eliminate waste?

How can you get closer to zero impact?

For more information, check some of the links below and consider what actions you can take to move toward a cleaner, greener, sustainable world.

http://www.greenbiz.com/news/columns_third.cfm?NewsID=34204

http://www.epa.gov/sustainability/basicinfo.htm#epa

http://www.nwei.org/index.html

http://www.caseplace.org/collections/

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One Response to Groking Sustainability–Part Two

  1. naturalhigh says:

    I encourage you to continue with this great blog! I just had my forst introduction to AI, which I wrote about here:

    http://naturalhigh.wordpress.com/2007/02/16/the-questions-we-ask/

    I am also very interested in the conversation for sustainabilty. Thanks for what you have posted- these are great resources.

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