No matter who you are and where you live, you have a place in this world that is very special. Your family, friends, community, ecosystem and school function collectively to form this very special place. The lens by which you view the world is built with these components, and thus forms the framework by which you think, feel, and live. Your place, therefore, is something that is unique, and worth protecting and preserving. You can do your part to preserve your place by practicing sustainability.
Generally speaking, sustainability means using resources in ways that meet our current needs, without compromising future needs. Because our natural resources are finite, sustainable practices are essential if we are to continue to enjoy everything our world has to offer.
While sustainability is a global concern, it can be easier to understand on a smaller, more localized scale. Take gardening, for example. A gardener may raise corn to sell or to feed her family, but unless the gardener saves some of the corn to plant for next year’s crop, it will only last one season. A sustainable approach would be to save a portion of the harvest in order to plant next year’s crop. Or, suppose a homesteader utilizes a pond on his property to raise fish and feed his family. This would only be a sustainable action if the farmer limited the amount of fish he harvested annually to ensure that the population could replenish itself every year. On a smaller scale, such as is the case with these examples, it is easier to understand what sustainability could look like for us in our place, and why it is needed.
Sustainability also applies on a much larger scale than an individual or family. As a population, we are currently facing many sustainability issues, including climate change, land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, to name a few. Sustainable practices move away from overusing resources, and instead to preserving resources for future use. With a global population of 8 billion and counting, people will need to move toward sustainable living if humanity is to continue to thrive. Taking care of our place, therefore, is essential, not just for us, but for the rest of the world as well.
It all comes down to changing our mindset from “what can I take?” to “what can I give?”. Or, how can I help to preserve my place? Sustainable living preserves and improves our place, so that it can be enjoyed for years to come. The focus of your project will be to build, promote, or optimize something in or about your place to make it more sustainable.
Driving Question: What can we do as a class to improve the sustainability of our place?
In order to complete your project, you will decide on an aspect of your place to improve upon. Consider your school as your sustainability laboratory. You will collect data at your sustainability lab to identify potential areas of improvement in sustainable practices. After identifying areas that could be improved, you will decide how you would like to improve your place. You could build something for your place, optimize something that is currently at your place, or develop a campaign to get others involved in improving your place. Whatever you decide, you will implement your idea over the course of this school year, and will share your work and findings during a presentation at the Nature School.
The work you do with your class this year will have a positive, lasting impact on your place. Additionally, sharing the outcomes of your sustainability project with peers and community members will inspire others to follow in your footsteps. Good luck!