How to Create a Healthy, Green, and Sustainable Environment at Home and at Work

Background

“The authentic green movement is founded on nature’s design principles, on human creativity and prosperity and respect, fair play, and good will. We believe that if people are given a choice to do things consciously and know what to do, they will make the correct decisions to heal our earth.” Evangeline Caridas

We humans have flourished during one of Earth’s most climatologically stable and habitable eras ever to exist. During the latter 100 years or so of this era, we have released huge amounts of greenhouse gases by our burning of fossil fuels. Until recently, however, we did not realize the unintended

consequence of using fossil fuels in this manner, as by doing so, we were also unleashing huge amounts of the carbon back into the atmosphere; carbon that the Earth had worked slowly for ages to extract from the atmosphere by sequestering it in the form of fossil fuels, coal, natural gas, oil…..a sequestering process that took place over billions of years…..whereas we put a large amount of it back into the atmosphere in less than 100 years, a mere blip in time in the life of this planet.

Generally, this slow but natural sequestering process absorbed excess CO2 and other the greenhouse gasses, and chemically with heat and pressure, converted decomposed plants from prior eras into the fossil fuels we use today. Each time the Earth has been in one of its overheated states it reacts naturally to convert CO2 and plant materials into fossil fuels, which each time helps the planet become more habitable to life once again. But because we humans are reconverting these stored fossil fuels back into greenhouse gasses at such an extraordinarily high rate over the last 100 years, the Earth is beginning to experience overheating once again and at a more rapid pace than ever experienced before according to fossil records. This heating of the Earth creates climate change which results in melting glaciers, polar and Greenland ice caps which in turn is causing ocean rise at an ever increasing accelerated rate that as imperceptible as it is now, is beginning to affect all life on Earth, displacing hundreds of million people and ultimately placing billions of human lives along with untold other species at serious risk.

Our present rate of consumption of the Earth’s resources is not sustainable. Should the rest of the people on Earth consume at the rate we do in the U.S., more than five Earths would be required. Today, humanity’s presence has placed the planet way beyond its biological capacity. Currently at 140% overshoot, this global overshoot occurs when humanity’s demand on nature exceeds the biosphere’s supply, or regenerative capacity to support life. Such overshoot leads to a depletion and liquidation of Earth’s life supporting natural capital and a build up of waste.

Furthermore, as we depend on the plant and animal kingdoms for our food sources, when these become burdened with chemicals, as they currently are, we are in deep trouble. We are Living on Earth at a period in time when the man-made toxins found in our water are sickening all life, not just ours; as 90% of the chemicals created by man have never been individually tested for their toxicity upon life, let alone when combined as they ultimately end-up in our environment. Man’s environmental footprint is grossly polluting and depleting fresh water supplies and destroying the oceans’ productivity through acidification. We are contaminating productive soils and rendering important lands ecologically sterile through inappropriate usages and chemically enhanced crop growing methods. This overabundance of chemicals being produced and used without regard for their effects upon life is polluting and fouling the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and even the very places where we live and work, our homes and businesses.

Every component of the ecosystem supports the whole, and when one component is out of balance or is destroyed, consequences for the rest result. Our human footprint has become so huge; our consumption has become so great that most other species on Earth are declining simply because there are not enough resources for us all to coexist together in our limited biosphere. Hence, scientists report that we are right now in the midst of the greatest mass extinction of species of all time; and it is believed to be occurring in the shortest ever time period too.

ts are convinced the Earth will become increasingly inhospitable for humankind. It is accelerating so rapidly they are concerned not only for our grandchildren and future generations, but increasingly for our immediate offspring who may actually have to bear the greatest brunt of this mess we are in.

While many may think we may already be at a point of no return, there actually is cause for lots of hope. As a species of hope, once we grasp there actually are answers, that there are solutions, we begin to craft solutions and to act upon them. In this case, we can have great expectations because once we realize that we are really the greatest reason for this predicament we find ourselves in, that we are the cause, not someone else or something else beyond man’s control, we then have the capacity to do something about it. And do something about it we will…..as survival is naturally programmed into our genes. We are really at the beginning of a whole new wonderful era as: “We just may be alive at a time when we can live the most meaningful lives any generation of humankind has ever lived”. LaVerne A. Williams

While we are a society that loves our conveniences and our “things”, this does not mean that we totally give them up. It does, however, mean that from this point forward, how we design our things and everything around us is absolutely critical. This includes our homes, our towns and cities, our transportation systems, our civilization and how these all impact what sustains us, the environment and the natural world. Our auto industry refused to read the signals of change for decades. Now it is failing. The big players in our housing industry may follow in failure as well unless they have a see change in attitude. So may many other industries unless they realize that continuing to do “business as usual” without regard for the ecological damage and human suffering they create is horribly obsolete.

Since the 50’s, we have become a society that has been based mostly upon consumption. For more than a half century, our society became a disposable society where we use stuff, cast it aside and then make more stuff and then cast that aside. We became a throwaway society; a society where design for planned obsolescence has become perhaps the major cause behind this mess we are in. To change this path to destruction means not only changing how Corporate America does business, but changing our belief system as well. We can no longer demand that we take natural resources, make things, use them, and then cast them into the dump without consideration for the consequences such acts have upon on the health of the planet and upon our lives and all living things. We can no longer throw things away because we have come to realize there really is no “away”.

We must progress as a society to where all humanity operates on a belief system of no waste. To where there really is no waste, as “waste” now becomes food for other biological processes or man-made technical processes. To where “waste equals food (waste = food).” Wm. McDonough That is, when there is “waste”, there are only two kinds of waste; Biological and Technical. Biological waste meaning waste which nature will naturally process in short order, and by Technical waste, meaning waste which man can recycle or reuse or reprocess to create other useful products and processes. We must become like Nature. Nature recycles its “toxic” waste naturally, rendering it harmless by becoming food which in turn becomes as food for all sorts of critters and beneficial microorganisms. Not so for mankind at present. The reasons we must to do this are obvious: we live on this planet and it sustains us. Aside from the sun, isn’t the Earth our “everything”? Think about this.

We believe that a remarkable new revolution is at hand that goes far beyond just conservation and recycling: a revolution that discards the disposable lifestyle; that goes past recycling to become a civilization that goes beyond green to actually become sustainable and restorative. Why not make things in a way that benefit people and make a profit for companies while not harming life but by actually benefitting all life, directly and indirectly, on Earth? A civilization that goes beyond green as being less bad for the planet to one actually being good; “A way of life that brings in the values of fair play, respect, and good will and human creativity.” Evangeline Caridas “A future that fosters the development of restorative & regenerative practices which embrace the development of an environmentally sustainable, economically fulfilling, psychologically satisfying, and a socially just human presence on this planet.” LaVerne A. Williams

Increasingly, we have come to realize we have to change products and services at the design stage. We know our refrigerators and our space conditioning systems burn the most energy in our homes. This begs the question: what if we actually had homes that were designed upon passive sustainability principles that go beyond green to become regenerative and restorative? What if toxic chemicals were not used in their creation or maintenance? What if our homes need very little energy to create comfortable living conditions? What if the little energy they do need all came from renewable energy sources? What if all the energy we need as a civilization to do everything we needed to do came from renewable energy sources? And that we each owned our own fuel source rather than it being owned by someone else? This must become our future….and quickly as possible, as our dependence upon fossil fuels has the whole world in a strangle hold, a death grip, depriving us and the rest of the world the peaceful coexistence we all wish to have. This is already in progress. Plug in and help us create the shift.

Ways to Create the Shift

There are ways to create sustainable work environments and communities. One way to get stakeholders engaged is to utilize a participative method. People will support change if they are given the tools and are involved the process. When people are involved and have a hand at designing the improvement initiative they shift and support change. What is required is a culture shift in our businesses and communities; from how we are currently doing things to a way that dramatically preserves and restores the Earth and life upon it. Human creativity is capable of designing bold new ways of doing things. The basic criteria for participative design are the following:

  • Control-(pace of work, materials needed to do work, interaction with colleagues)
  • Learning – clear goals and feedback
  • Variety
  • Mutual Support and Respect
  • Meaningfulness
  • A Promising Future
  • Engage one or several of their preferred life interests
  • Challenges that match and stretch individual skills
  • Concentration and Focus
  • Fun

The above criteria are some of the key internal motivators of work, the reasons people do good work without consideration of pay. Pay is a satisfier, not an internal motivator of work. When the above criteria are utilized in a change initiative whether in a corporation or community, people will make the necessary changes for the success of the improvement initiative. This is a model that will help us tap into human creativity and innovation to design the next generation of green products and services. The above business model is sustainable for the long term. It also produces dramatic business results!

By Evangeline Caridas and LaVerne Williams

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