Engaging in Sustainability: A Holistic Approach

By Kip Wassink, Biology Teacher & Environmental Club Sponsor

In the intricate tapestry of human evolution, our biology once wired us to seize opportunities and maximize resource use, a trait developed in response to the scarcity of necessities. Although our modern society bathes in some abundance, the challenge remains in effectively distributing these resources to generate universal happiness. Sustainability, the linchpin of our collective future, hinges on understanding the delicate dance between our evolutionary legacy and the imperative to protect our planet.

The imperative to embrace sustainability has become a universal awareness, with looming threats such as melting glaciers, species extinction, the depletion of ancient forests, and environmental devastation from mining accentuating the urgency. However, forging a tangible connection between these global concerns and our daily activities proves to be a challenging task. Some companies, employing strategies like Greenwashing, seek to impart a sense of virtue to our choices; yet, upon closer examination, these efforts often reveal a superficial veneer lacking substantive impact. Interestingly, we replicate a similar pattern in our personal lives by donating money and surplus items, aiming to derive a sense of personal fulfillment. In truth, this act often serves as a proxy for our innate desire for connection, highlighting the complex interplay between our altruistic actions and the profound need for meaningful human bonds.

The environmental club, a small group of students navigating these challenges, chose to address these issues because, as one student eloquently stated, “Sustainability means not only doing things that have less/zero impact on the earth but also taking action to keep things regenerative and ongoing with the lowest impact possible.”

Here’s a sampling of the activities undertaken by the club in the last few years:

  • Monthly Lower Impact  Day
  • Carbon Offsets for EBC travel
  • Initial planning for a multiyear creek restoration
  • Audit and reporting of utility bills for the school

What strikes me about all of these is that they recognize that effective sustainable action requires a combination of effective actions and effective connection. Any effort that ignores this connection will be ineffective.

Amidst the pressures and options in our society, it’s challenging to discern what a good choice even looks like. A lunch conversation the other day exemplified this struggle; a person mentioned skipping the main meal due to its environmental impact, but the alternative had more plastic packaging, sparking a nuanced discussion about recycling, transportation, and the limitations of personal choices. In my opinion, true engagement is about living deliberately. Take the time to connect with people around you and really listen. Change your habits periodically to see things from a new perspective. You don’t need to worry about being perfect, but you do need to maintain an awareness that growth and change are constant.