I used to picture sustainable efforts only as global solutions to global environmental problems. In reality, just as each individual contributes to the world’s carbon footprint, each individual plays a part in making the world more sustainable. Every road trip my family took contributed greenhouse gas emissions, and each coffee cup I threw away made a landfill grow that much more. The smallest actions can improve our environmental impact, even if it’s only my family bringing reused yogurt containers and spare Tupperware to restaurants. Each container we bring saves us from using a styrofoam one for our leftovers. The more you break down sustainability, the more you can see what can be done to conserve. Most conservation efforts are also things you wouldn’t expect, like how I can save up to 3,000 lbs of CO2 emissions per year by just being a vegetarian.
As happy as I am with the efforts I can make towards sustainability, it is frustrating to see waste that is out of my control to prevent. I work for a theater company as the set designer, and while overseeing set construction at my job, I also see a lot of waste being produced. Very usable scrap wood gets tossed away carelessly. Though because there is already a trash system in place at the public school the theater is located in, there is little that I can change. Recycling and reclamation companies are expensive, and it simply isn’t feasible for us to transport it all to a center. Our waste could be reused or broken down to become particleboard, recycled wood-plastic composite, or a variety of other products. Yet, even without the policies in place, being an underfunded arts program is restricting us from contributing our resources. Changing my personal habits is one thing, but financial insecurity and institutional policies are difficult outside forces to overcome.