Sustainability – How can we contribute to the world wide effort?

Linda Tatum

By Linda Tatum, Rooftop Sedums and USGBC-Missouri Gateway Membership & Marketing Committee 

As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) came to a close, many of us are asking, “How can I, my family, and my company/organization step up and be part of the solution?” First, we can examine what sustainability means and our roles. 

Sustainability is handling life in a manner which makes sure that the resources we need will continue to be available in the future. Sustainability is finding new ways to ensure our current needs are met without depleting available resources. For example, when humans consume all the fish capable of self-sustaining, we are not utilizing fish as a sustainable resource. The key is that we must think about every resource in the long-term versus short-term uses. 

Steps to Sustainability Action
Ask friends, family members or co-workers to join your “sustainability partnership” and encourage others to establish partnerships. This will help everyone stay accountable.

  • Together with your sustainability partner(s) : 
  • Establish a Sustainability Mission
  • Set firm, Specific Goals and Desired Results with Dates.
  • List Steps and Methods to implement the goals during the coming months, quarters or years. 
  • Identify New Habits that will help reach your goals. Old habits are best broken by developing a list of specific new Actions or habits your partnership will use. 
  • Set firm Date to Celebrate Progress. (Plan a party or celebration!) 

People like to be creative. Think ahead about how each person on the team likes to communicate and be involved. Encourage brainstorming to get those creative juices flowing and enthusiasm building. Try to make the process fun. We need everyone onboard.

  •  Here are a few suggested goals, methods and new habits to consider: 
  • Track and try to reduce home energy and water use
  • Plan vacations and organizational events that require less travel
  • Waste less food and compost what waste is generated – check out earthday365’s Too Good to Waste Campaign for tips!
  • Purchase second hand office and home furnishings
  • Start or join an existing community ‘Buy Nothing’ group
  • Eat less packaged food – it’s better for your own health and the planet’s

Read the book Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard, by Douglas Tallamy then replace turf with native shrubs and perennials, which will reduce water and chemical inputs and increase biodiversity

  • Drive less – consider walking, biking, transit and carpooling as options 
  • Use reusable food and beverage containers
  • Sweep and rake your yard instead of using hose water or gas/electric blower
  • Drink tap water instead of bottled
  • Use only green cleaning products & reusable cleaning cloths
  • Volunteer at a food garden in communities experiencing food deserts 
  • Start a book group that reads books and articles on sustainability 
  • Volunteer with group that weatherizes homes
  • Help address health inequity by volunteering at clinic for those lacking health insurance
  • Volunteer to teach a class about sustainability at a community center
  • Convert to renewable energy
  • Buy fewer electronics and when you do, make sure they are ENERGY STAR 
  • Sign your business up for the St. Louis Green Business Challenge
  • Encourage your company participate in the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter

This may seem like a long list, but if you and your sustainability partnership pick a few things to focus on, you will be making a difference! To get involved in USGBC-Missouri Gateway’s work to make every building a green building, visit www.usgbc-mogateway.org