Thursday, April 22, 2010

Breath of fresh air

Earth Plush by necessarynonsense 

Happy Earth Day , everyone !! Here we are , Earth day is officially 40 years old. So, on this important day, I thought I could broach on a subject that is very basic in our daily lives. I need it, you do and so does everyone around us. If it weren't for this natural 'resource' - well, we'd all cease to exist  - AIR.

What has happened with industrialization and our quest to achieve the unattainable ? Over the years, it so very common to hear people developing respiratory ailments . With all the advancements we have made , we have also contributed to carbon emissions , smoke and other factors leading to the degradation of air quality.

I am not an expert on sustainable living nor do I claim to be. But, I know someone who is :-) My blog needed a fresh breath of air ( pun , intended !) .For Earth Day, I wanted to post something meaningful and informative What better way to do that than to have the most eco-friendly person -  that I know personally -  share some of her sustainable thoughts with us. My good friend- Mary Ostafi. Before I introduce Mary, I would like to thank her for agreeing to do this for me :-)

Mary and I go long way back. We met at Flad and Associates in Madison, Wisconsin . We worked together on the same project , we became friends. We share a lot in name a few ... we are both vegetarians, love our professions, we love dancing  !

Mary graduated from Northern Illinois University with her undergraduate degree in Interior Designer . After adding a couple of years to her work experience, she worked hard and passed the A.R.E exams and became an architect. Clearly, needing to fill a void in her life , she decided to pursue Master's in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola . Now she works for one of the largest firms in the world as a Sustainable  Design Strategist. 

Without further adieu... Mary Ostafi ...

What and when  is your earliest memory of wanting to lead a sustainable life ?     What steps have you taken to lead a sustainable living

It is difficult to recall the exact moment in my life when I started becoming a more conscious human being. I've always had a deep appreciation for nature but I have never considered myself an environmentalist, even to this day. Sure, there are reasons why others would label me as so, but I simply live my life in a way that is most meaningful and rewarding to me, which entails passion and respect for the natural world in which I am a part of.

I stopped eating meat as early as grade school and officially became a vegetarian in high school. In college when I was studying interior architecture I was fortunate to have a professor who helped mentor me in green design. Soon after graduating I became a LEED AP (over 8 years ago now - before most people even knew what LEED was). And after 8 years of struggling to push sustainability to the next level at my work place I decided to move on and pursue a degree in sustainability...which led me to the position in which I am today - Sustainable Specialist for one the of the largest design and planning firms in the world.

What is the biggest problem that we as a human race have inflicted upon our planet and is there a way to reverse the problem ?

It's very simple, there is an increasing demand in our society for natural resources and ecosystem services...but the ability of the planet earth to supply these natural resources and ecosystem services is declining. We are consuming natural resources as if they are in infinite supply, when in fact once they are gone, they are gone forever.

To reverse this problem we simply need to look to nature. The earth has been in existence for 4.6 billion years and life began to exist soon after. Life has found ways to optimize existence and adopt to all climates and conditions around the globe. Humans can look to life's prinicples for inspiration and design guidance for innovation. We currently live in a take-make-waste society, we need to transition to closed loop processes evident in the natural world where one organisms waste is another organisms food. It is not until humans are in balance with the natural world that we will sustain human existence on earth. 

 Our basic need to lead our lives is AIR . What are your thoughts on pollution and other factors leading to the degradation of the quality of air we breathe. What are the measures we, as individuals,  can take to improve the air quality around us ? 

SELL YOUR CAR! Start taking public transportation, walk, ride your bike, carpool, and drastically reduce your carbon footprint. "Live where you work and work where you live". As a North American having traveled to 4 continents I have witnessed the drastic lifestyle differences around the world. Americans like space and freedom, which is why so many of us (myself not included) live in oversized homes in the suburbs where we are completely dependent on cars for mobility. Urban dwellers drive less, therefore contributing less to air pollution.

BUY LOCAL and grow your own food! Most of the food and products we purchase are shipped from halfway across the world, not only consuming a tremendous amount of energy but polluting our air along the way. Become a more conscious consumer, research before you buy, support companies that are stewards for the environment and help your local economy prosper.

REDUCE YOUR ENERGY DEPENDENCE from fossil fuel resources and switch to renewables. If you consider the entire life cycle of coal and natural gas (standard energy sources in N America), from mining to transport to manufacture to use, it becomes glaringly obvious that a tremendous amount of carbon emissions are released along the way, hence polluting our air to say the least. And do not get me started on the nuclear energy debate (another topic another time)!

REPLACE THE GRASS LAWN with native plant species that will help filter the air around you. Grass is hugely energy intensive requiring fossil fueled lawn mowers whereas natives require less water and maintence to grow in your region.

I hope this has been an enjoyable yet informative read for you. It certainly makes you think , doesn't it ? Well, thats the point of an informative read ...  it should be- well -  thought provoking.

1 comment:

  1. Most awesome! Two of my favorite people conversing about an excellent topic. Well done! I look forward to reading more on a regular basis.