For a long time, advocates of green living have had to endure some level of ridicule. And although once relegated to the fringes of mainstream public opinion, champions of sustainable solutions to the increasing problems associated with over-consumption may end up having the last laugh. More and more, sustainable living practices are making their way into the mainstream and the impact is formidable.
Schools Going Green
The students at the Waldorf School in Costa Mesa, California are getting the chance to participate in sustainability just by going to school every day. The school is expanding their current capacity by 10,000 square feet through the use of recycled steel shipping containers. Forming four entirely new buildings, these shipping containers will be permanent additions to the school rather than temporary mobile classrooms like we’ve seen so many schools use in the past. Seeing sustainable building practices make their way into the mainstream to such an extent that schools are jumping on board is truly exciting because it accomplishes more than initially meets the eye.
Using recycled shipping containers for building materials solves the primary challenge of creating much needed space for classrooms in which students can learn. But going to school in recycled classrooms is an effective way to teach students good environmental practices. And there’s no better evidence that green, sustainable practices are finally going mainstream than to see schools adopting responsible building practices.
Earthship homes are one of the more intriguing examples of sustainability gradually starting to make its way into the mainstream. Back in the 1970′s when Mike Reynolds first began constructing these tire constructed and rammed earth homes, the earthship carried connotations of a hippy dippy fringe society.
But the practicality of these simple buildings has made them ever more popular and they can now be found in most parts of the United States and are becoming popular in Europe as well. Not only do these homes require very little energy consumption due to their passive solar design, the technique of pounding dirt into old used tires for their construction is another great example of using common materials in an innovative way.
What can You Do?
Sustainability as a way of living isn’t always going to be as appealing as building schools out of recycled shipping containers and incredibly cool earthship homes. But everyday actions can have a huge impact toward pushing sustainability farther into the mainstream. In your home and office, make a concerted effort to engage in less wasteful practices. At home, try to conserve water resources by fewer toilet flushes and not running the faucet while shaving and brushing your teeth. Keeping your home a few degrees warmer in the summer and a few degrees cooler in the winter can have a greater impact on reducing energy consumption than you might imagine.
In the office, try to print paper copies less frequently. Making company resources available electronically can go a long way toward cutting down on wasteful paper usage. Encouraging telecommuting is great for cutting down gas consumption. And if you absolutely have to go to the office to perform certain duties, think about consolidating them into the first part of the week and telecommuting the last day or two if possible. Businesses can make a big impact when sustainability becomes part of corporate culture. And as sustainability continues to encroach into the mainstream, irresponsible conspicuous consumption of natural resources may eventually find its way out of the mainstream and into the fringe.
Waldorf Construction Youtube Video: http://www.youtube.com/embed/CZs2PGpN_cQ
Earthship Homes Youtube Video: http://www.youtube.com/embed/L9jdIm7grCY
Aaron Carlson lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing and family life. He writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University and has a keen interest in green living and social media. He also writes for professionalintern.com.