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Stuff has to come from somewhere, even if it's biorenewable


By poester


How many of you have heard of sustainability? Do you know what exactly sustainability entails? How can we be a more sustainable society? These questions are the basis for entry-level knowledge into the world of sustainability; however, don’t be fooled, these questions hardly scratch the surface of what exactly sustainability is. Over the course of the past 50 years, major strides towards a more sustainable future have been brought to light into the mainstream media. But did you know that sustainable practices can have negative impacts on the environment?

It is important to acknowledge why these practices are put into place, though. It would be naive to not understand that no matter how we produce/acquire these resources that there will be negative consequences on the environment. It is vital though, that there is an understanding of why we favor more sustainable practices: they provide us with better chances of maintaining the natural ecological balance. Well, how do these practices provide us with these “better” chances? To answer this question, we should look at where some of these resources originate.

Firstly, wood. With recent advancements of technology into the classroom, many school districts have implemented the use of electronic devices such as Chromebooks and iPads, including my hometown school district! Many of these programs have the hopes of reducing paper waste by removing paper completely, and in doing so, they (those who are in support of these programs) claim to be helping the environment by reducing the number of trees that are cut down. But in reality, this is not the case! According to Katie Fernholz, a representative of the Dovetail company, this actually does worse for the environment. The majority of trees used to create paper and wood products are sourced from reputable sources and in fact, increases the need and use of wood products. This, in turn, helps boost the wood economy and drives those who do use wood products, to obtain their products from certified forests and companies as the need for more sustainably sourced materials arise. This directly correlates to the implementation of ethically sourced wood products and helps spread awareness of deforestation of other problems that have been at the forefront of the sustainability movement.

When we think of wood, generally, the first thing to come to mind is trees; however, there are other alternatives to traditional forests that can provide us with the same outcome. One way is through short rotation coppicing. This is the practice of utilizing plants that don’t have such a large turn-around compared to large trees. These plants have been bred and selected to have extremely high rates of growth. These then can be used to make a variety of products including liquid fuels such as ethanol, diesel, and jet fuel. These are much more sustainable than mining for fossil fuels!

Well, what about food? For a while, I had never considered that the food we eat every day can be harvested, cared for, and processed with sustainable practices. Many fear that these practices will drive up the costs of food as a result; however, as technology improves and becomes implemented into the agricultural industry, there may arise an opportunity for a seamless transition towards sustainability. It is important though to acknowledge that agriculture doesn’t just include food!

So what’s the takeaway from this? Well, be conscious of where you’re sourcing your materials! There are a variety of organizations that determine if a product has been sourced sustainably, making it easier today than ever before. Just look for those labels next time you visit your local grocery store and you can help minimize the effects we have on the environment.

More blog posts by poester

Next post: Wood: the Good, the Bad, and the “Neutral”


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