For the Birds-No Such Thing as Away

Sustainability advocates and others tout the phrase “There is no such thing as ‘away'” when talking about trash or making something go, well, somewhere else. People and things don’t go away, they end up somewhere else. CBS Sunday Morning’s design episode today (May 19, 2013) included a segment on the ‘designer of fine bird houses,’ Tom Burke (Home Tweet Home),

Beyond the elaborate bird house designs, many of which replicate the homes of well-known actual home owners including Martha Stewart and artist Jaime Wyeth, a short portion of the segment attracted my attention. Tom Burke’s ‘design’ studio is in the basement of his Wilmington, Delaware condo. According to the CBS segment, Burke uses the space rent-free in exchange for what the segment writer called “recycling.” Burke uses items his condo neighbors throw ‘away’ in constructing the bird houses. Some commissions are more than $20,000, so you know these bird houses are really the ‘Four Seasons’ of aviary space.

Consider this: if we spent a little time really thinking about whether we need this item or that item, perhaps we wouldn’t have so much “stuff” that we want to go “away.” Circling back to the original thought: there is no such thing as away, how many times do you run out to the store to pick something up, then find a few days, weeks or months later that you had exactly what you needed at the house, apartment, garage or office and really didn’t need to buy something else. You are left with all this stuff that needs to go ‘away’ at some point.

Jane Pauley’s “Life Re-imagined” segment on The Today Show May 17, 2013, featured Barbara Chandler Allen’s non-profit program “Fresh Artists” that uses proceeds from art pieces created by students and purchased by donors and corporate sponsors to fund school art programs that have dwindled in the past 10 to 20 years. A project such as this prevents us from throwing away talent and creativity that is squandered under the guise of funding cuts.

Collaboration, brainstorming and solid team work are ways to prevent things from going away. The old saying, “God closes a door and opens a window.” is a good one; we put willing, able-bodied, creative minds in a room and come up with solutions to problems. We find ways to make programs and ideas sustainable. We connect people so they can listen, talk and share ideas in order to continue and expand programs. We enable others to join the fray and find productive, creative ways to engage others . Whether it’s an elaborate bird house, children’s talent for art or a valuable program teetering on the edge of extinction, when we step up in any capacity we can, the results are indeed sustainable.

 

Brilliant – Philadelphia Flower Show Perspective

Do you need a burst of spring while winter swipes at us for a few more weeks? Visitors from the Philadelphia region and from Philadelphia Flower Showaround the world visit during the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. The scent of fresh-grown flowers and the potpourri of color is always a reminder that spring is less than three weeks away. Granted, the winter months here have been kind to us in the Philadelphia region. For those who are buried under feet of snow and ice, please enjoy just a tiny piece of this year’s show with a theme from the Brits – “Brilliant.”

Search for Sustainability

Search for Sustainability

What is sustainability? While people think of environmental dilemmas when they think of sustainability, most people do not enter sustainability through the environment. They consider how they can sustain a business, the economy of a community, a 20130217_inq_cu1zencey17-aschool system. Sustainability involves many issues. Sustainability is about how everything in the world meshes together so that the people, places and things can be sustained for generations to come.

Today, I share with you an editorial from The Philadelphia Inquirer that can help you think of sustainability from far above the earth. Thank you Matt Zencey for sharing your thoughts.

There is No Such Thing as Away – Finale

Sustainability goes on. There will be mid-course corrections in the process of getting communities, governments and individuals to understand that all our systems are connected. Sustainability is not just about the environment. As I’ve learned in the NJ Learns program, most people do not enter the sustainability topic from the environment. The topic is complex and can be messy; change happens slowly – almost excruciatingly slowly. Many baby steps lead to real change and understanding that steps taken now will preserve and conserve our society, resources, economy and all of the systems within for generations to come.

After about six months of off and on work to complete my practicum, I have ‘graduated’ from

NJ Learns certificate & reclaimed wood frame by Matt Ryan -One Man Gathers Studio.

NJ Learns certificate & reclaimed wood frame by Matt Ryan -One Man Gathers Studio.

the NJ Learns program. Today our cohort heard the final projects from the educators and community participants in our cohort. The enthusiasm, creativity and persistence among all of the participants is admirable. There is a second grade teacher who has the freedom in her classroom and school to teach sustainability across the curriculum. Students are planting gardens; inner city children are learning that their world has much more than the black top that surrounds their school; Boy Scouts are learning how they can cut energy by simply changing out light bulbs; a science teacher who embraced Green Apple Day and got his school on board is also now reclaiming wood and making frames, trays and other objects as a side business. Sustainability never ends. My project is continuing – working with Sustainable Cherry Hill, the Cherry Hill Schools and PTAs and people in the region who are learning that everything we do now affects our children’s future and their children’s future and so on. One big take-away for me is that “There is no such thing as away.” Think of that when you toss something ‘away’ in the trash. Over time, thinking changes – we all change – and for the better.

21 Days

Some say if you do something for 21 days straight, it becomes a habit. Think of that simple idea as you try to perhaps stick with a resolution during this new year. By day 22, you’ll have your new habit down pat. I’ve stayed on target since 2005 by keeping up with my fitness routine and I won’t turn back. Keep your 21-day pledge simple; don’t deprive yourself; do things in moderation and I bet you’ll be successful.

Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall

While I’ll stay away from resolutions , I just saw Dr. Jane Goodall being interviewed. She is serving as the Grand Marshall of the Tournament of Roses Parade i n Pasadena, CA where the theme this year is “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” the groundbreaking researcher is promoting conservation as ceremonial leader of this year’s parade. During the interview she said young people today have so many beautiful places to visit and explore around the world, but what places will there be to see 100 years from now because of damage we cause to the planet?

In a few weeks, I will complete my NJ Learns program which has given me a new perspective about sustainability. Whether it’s my work with Sustainable Cherry Hill or working with area schools to help brainstorm ideas to build enthusiasm about issues surrounding sustainability, I hope that every day I can do something – no matter how small – to improve the world for future generations. It can be something ‘green’ and it can be something to bring a smile to someone. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if peace and joy were more sustainable. No one has a perfect day every day, but we can do ONE thing a day to bring a smile or more happiness to another person whether it’s a loved one, a friend or a perfect stranger.

Try bringing a smile to someone every day for 21 days. Now that is a sustainable habit.

There’s No Such Thing as Away

What is sustainability? For months, that burning question has whirled in my mind. Now, as part of the NJ Learns program, not only can I begin to better answer that question, but start to affect the people in my sphere of influence.

“There is no such thing as away.”. You throw away a yogurt cartoon; the coffee grounds are thrown in the garbage; You throw away the wrapping from your sandwich at lunch. Where is AWAY? Away is where we can’t see the stuff anymore, but the impact on the world is far reaching. Thee fuel used by the garbage trucks to haul the trash impacts our carbon footprint;

How Green is My Life

Image The words”green” and “sustainable” can be overused and misunderstood. Perhaps many of us don’t really know what either word really means in practical use. Sustainable can mean taking action to be sure that a resource is protected or preserved for a very long time. That could be a bit simplistic, but it’s a place to start.

Meantime, this was passed along to me. The author is unknown but it is food for thought as we work to protect the natural resources of our planet:

The Green Thing

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.
The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”
The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”
She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right. We didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

What do you think?