This post is the seventh in a series exploring ten principles of bioregional living and spotlighting Cascadians who embody each principle.
“Using sustainable and healthy products, such as those with low embodied energy, sourced locally, made from renewable or waste resources.”
From One Living Planet
Reduce, reuse, recycle. We’ve all heard it before. Have you actually stopped to think about why this catch phrase is so well known? We all know what it means at a basic level. Reduce waste to save the planet.
Have you actually taken the time to reflect on the the value and fundamental necessity of implementing these actions in your own life?
Sustainable materials are the next step in ensuring the health and longevity of the Cascadia Bio-region. The Concrete Joint Sustainability Initiative describes sustainability as, “maintaining our resources from the environment for the quality of life, over time. It can also refer to the ability to tolerate—and overcome—degradation of natural environmental services, diminished productivity due to man’s relationship to the planet and each other.”
Resources are not unlimited as it can appear, and it is time to become more frugal with the precious and limited resources we have. There is an increased pressure to begin reducing overall consumption by implementing sustainable materials due to persistent overpopulation. There are more people than earth can handle, and it is depleting resources.
We can take a step towards protecting our bio-region with sustainable materials.
Whether it be through sustainable building materials, renewable energy, or just using sustainable light bulbs using recycled products at home, everyone has the capacity to implement this principle in some way.
There are several simple steps you can take at home to begin implementing sustainable materials to preserve the bioregion.
- Conserve Energy and Save Money: Buy some efficient light bulbs, an aerator for the sink, unplug appliances not in use, and turn off all lights. These steps will conserve energy, and save you money on your bills as well.
- Minimize Waste Through Sustainability: Use refillable containers, use reusable shopping bags, compost food waste, and shop at second hand stores to reduce waste at home.
- Bulk Purchases: Buying in bulk reduces overall packaging used, and reduces overall energy used in product production.
Seattle University: A Prime Example of Sustainable Materials
Seattle University implements a plethora of sustainable material practices. The Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability says, “our Jesuit ethos calls us to revere the life-giving force of the natural world, to care for creation as responsible stewards of the planet, and to work for justice so that no peoples are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation.”
What are they doing?
Recycling and Composting: SU provides compost and recycling bins wherever you can find a garbage bin.
Transportation: SU provides Night Hawk driving service for students, has bike racks all over campus, and even provides ORCA cards so students can use public transportation.
Energy: By using both solar power and LED light bulbs, SU uses “30% less energy than universities of the same size in our climate.”
Landscape: At SU you can find campus edibles, green roofs, community gardens, and rain gardens.
Water: SU implements many sustainable water sources.
LEED Gold Buildings: All new buildings are designed to achieve LEED Gold standards. The 4 LEED Gold buildings feature native, drought-tolerant plants, high efficiency energy systems and water fixtures, Forest Stewardship Council certified wood products, and building products made locally, of recycled materials and with a low VOC content.
“Here at Seattle University, our Jesuit ethos calls us to revere the life-giving force of the natural world, to care for creation as responsible stewards of the planet, and to work for justice so that no peoples are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation.”
Stay tuned for the eighth principle of bioregional living, Sustainable Transport by Mariah Edwards-Heflin.