Un-Thinking Un-Sustainability: iDS + GB

iDesign Sunday + Green Bloggin’

Being a sustainability minor has caused me to think about sustainability on several different levels. In class, we are always taught that being sustainable isn’t a one dimensional feat. It is very multidimensional, and must be approached as such.  Social sustainability is the subject that we always open the semester with, in hopes that we understand just how pertinent the multidimensional approach is in sustainability.  This semester, social sustainability thinking has taken off in many thought trains in my mind; I’m always thinking about it. I often wonder things such as how can the African American communities and sustainability meet, because I don’t see many African American communities which promote sustainability.  After talking with my professor, she also pointed out that communities which are in poverty don’t address sustainability much. My family also causes me to ponder on this subject.  As human beings, many of our behaviors are learned.  From an early age we see what our parents do and we mimic it, and those habits help make us who we are.  Thus, I believe that  unsustainable behaviors are in fact learned behaviors which have been passed down through the generations because these actions were once thought of as the right thing to do. I’m sure no one purposefully sought out to undermine the integrity of the world’s ecosystem.  There can be so many reasons as to why unsustainable actions could have been started, such as social sanctions and myths that were believed to be true.  Likewise, some actions that are taught are inherently sustainable. The list below is very specific to my family, so I would love to hear behaviors that you were taught that are either sustainable or unsustainable, and solutions to make sure that we pass on sustainable lifestyle behaviors to the future generations.

1. Give the dryer (and your electric bill) a break!  Owning a drying rack is common in my family.  At my grandmother’s house, we even had an outdoor clothes line.  These methods of drying are often used for delicate clothes, or during summer months when it is hot outside.  Summer heat means you don’t have to add to the heat of the house by using an electric dryer, and you can use the “original dryer” – the sun.  Even as a college student living in a dorm, I would find ways to drape my clothes around to let them air dry, whether it was a delicate load, or I just didn’t want to wait on the dryer.  When I studied in Italy, we didn’t even have a dryer!  Talk about having to choose outfits early.  Air drying is a good way to go!

oh, yea. Dorm room air drying skill level: booby trap expert!

2. Make sure it is CLEAN!  My family is full of cleaning enthusiasts.  Whatever the bottle says to use, you can be sure that that amount +1.5 units more will be used.  I’m serious.  You know the nice scent you catch a whiff of when you smell freshly washed or dried clothes?  Well, imagine the bottle opening up and assaulting you nasal passage.  There’s something about smelling it so powerfully which makes my family believe it is absolutely clean.  Otherwise, it is considered to still be dirty.  Oh, and let’s not even touch the subject of washing clothes with cold water… I am guilty of this.  If they tell you not to wash your hands with cold water, why would you wash your clothes with it?  That is one brain teaser for me.  The only way to resolve it is to google it, ahem, I mean research it.  Research is good.

Site on how to remove stains which gives the “Facts & Uses” of laundry detergent.

3.  Hand-me-downs & Thrift Shopping.  Honestly, I think this is a personal opinion, coming from the youngest of 8 and a girl that enjoyed hanging around my elders when I was young, but I love hand-me-downs & thrift stores.  The name of my blog says it all!  You know that sweater that your sister got last winter that you’ve been eyeing since she picked it up at the store?  That can be yours, with patience!  Thrift stores and garage sales are just magical time capsules of never ending fun.  Unicorn status.  Point blank.

end tables I saw at an estate sale this past summer.

4. “Don’t leave the store without a grocery bag!”  The elders in my family have an (annoying) habit of forcing me to get grocery bags for EVERYTHING I purchase in a store.  Their reasoning always boils down to, “You don’t want anyone to think you stole that!”  After I stopped being annoyed by it, I took time to think about it.  I honestly think this stems from how they grew up, as African Americans between the 1940s-1970s.  They we automatically stereotyped and judged for anything they did, and they did not want anyone to falsely accuse them of being a thief.  Therefore, never leaving the store without a grocery bag – the sign of an honest purchase – was instilled in them early on.  I have never asked them about taking their own reusable bags, but with as much discerning looks that I receive when I say “I don’t need a bag for that huge package of paper towels,” I can only imagine that they would think taking their own bag would definitely be a no.  But I will talk to them about it, out of curiosity, and hopefully to persuade them and help them see my point of view.  Stop it with those plastic bags.  Granted, they always get reused, there has always been an unnecessarily large collection of plastic bags in the pantry.

oooh, plastic bags.. you dirty, dirty, 450 year to biodegrade messy little things, you. 😦  Click the picture to view the blog post associated with this – Natural Domestic Living – “Reusable Shopping Bags”

Now please, do tell.  How were you taught to be sustainable or unsustainable?   How can you continue to pass sustainable knowledge to future generations, while deterring the passage of unsustainable behaviors?

Until next time (hopefully sooner if you strike up a convo via comments 🙂 ), Ci Vediamo!!!



2 thoughts on “Un-Thinking Un-Sustainability: iDS + GB

  1. Pingback: Loft Living | old world new girl

  2. Pingback: The Green View: “Garbage Warrior” | oldworldnewgirl

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