Sustaining Sustainability: Ground-level reforms are needed to encourage a climate conscious lifestyle
Views 6 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 10 - 2019 | By: Matthew Metz and Carly Matthews
You’re in line for coffee after a long, tiring day of work. You want a feel-good drink, a hug in a mug, something to carry you until evening. You pay for your order, and reach into your bag for your snazzy insulated glass tumbler. As your hand it to the barista, embarrassment hits you. You haven’t had time to clean it after your morning coffee, and there’s still dried grounds crusted on the sides. Do you risk the bathroom lines, or do you just ask for a disposable cup?
The problem here is that, as society moves towards a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, many small but hindering barriers exist. While discounts at grocery stores and cafes for reusing exist, they do not adequately remove inconveniences in a fast-paced culture. As climate awareness in popular opinion grows, efforts to live sustainably will too. To encourage and normalize environmentally conscious living, many ground-level changes are needed.
To begin, cafes could offer cleaning stations outside bathrooms free of charge for patrons to clean their liquid carrier of choice. Given how many people are switching to reusable cups, this would serve an increasingly large demographic of consumers. Though initially costly, this action would eventually pay itself off, factoring in the savings from producing disposable cups and the environmental harm averted. Appropriate fast food and takeout restaurants could incentivize patrons to use lunchboxes, and not just for the throwback to childhood.
Food courts in America are notorious for single-use waste. Even Santa Barbara’s universally adored Public Market is guilty of this. Instead, food courts should move towards reusable utensils and plates. Infinitely busier food courts in Europe and Asia have already implemented this with astonishing success, so there is no reason why American food courts cannot do the same. This also goes for schools, colleges, and, of course, church youth groups, which could benefit from implementation by lowering their reliance on single-use materials. Additionally, using reusable plates and utensils would create a few more cleaning jobs for those who need them.
While on the topic of schools, education campaigns about environmental care should be widely implemented. These would inform students from a young age how important it is to be environmentally conscious and how to live sustainably. With this mindset in place, efforts to break the barriers to climate-conscious living will be widespread, and a culture of increasingly creative innovation would grow. This could result in all forms of technical innovation that reduces waste, increases recycling efficiency, or a complete replacement of resources currently considered essential to consumer life.
Living sustainably and in an environmentally-conscious manner is a choice every person must make. Though it seems an obviously good way to live, it is difficult in a culture prioritizing expediency over sustainability. Subverting this framework will help facilitate better practices, such as those listed above, on the part of the public. This will pave the way for further innovations and trends towards sustainable living, increasing momentum in a movement that will only benefit culture now and in the future.