We have been hearing this word used more and more often in our lives. In the media, on social networks, in newspapers, in marketing for products and services plus we hear since it is tossed into daily conversations, like a little extra salt.
I am embracing its new-found popularity and pursuing ways to expand it further because sustainability has meant something special to me for a very long time. In fact has been a foundational pillar for my life and my work.
To start with my desired expansion, let’s begin with an explanation of what the word SUSTAINABILITY means and what it does NOT mean.
able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
“sustainable economic growth”
able to be upheld or defended.
“sustainable definitions of good educational practice”
Sustainability does NOT mean that we have to be exclusively ecologically conscious, vegetarians or only washing our houses with white water vinegar.
Though lots of these things have become part of my daily practice, this is not what being sustainable means at all. The blurring of the meaning is caused by the media force-feeding stories about this. Be wary of any products that claim being sustainable. You need to manage your own life, your own knowledge and not just take things on surface value. Being a sustainable person simply means you are checking to see if the things, people, relationships you surround yourself with an take part in are able to go the distance. It is quite simple. It is not a specific manifesto for a certain way of life. Is it simply a philosophy on how to approach your life.
Being sustainable is nothing more than maintainable, or supportable choices we make everyday. We need to think about this with everything we do.
As a designer I think about sustainability with every decision I make.
I think about whether I want to work with someone on their project, what materials, finishes, furniture, appliances to specify and what the long-term results of this sort of project will bring to the world at large. This is the obvious one. But is also comes into play when I think whether this relationship is sustainable? Is this client someone that will be a bearable, and workable relationship in my life in my business for the foreseeable future? Are there immediate and long-term benefits to taking on board this project at this moment?
Is this sustainable – for me, for the world,
Can this decision, action, business be sustained?
I am a LEED Accredited professional with a specialty in Interior Design and Construction. (This stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) I became accredited when I realized this was the only way I could legitimize my sustainable design focus. My focus had always been to seek the ways in which to complete a design, meet the clients’ expectations in ways that were creative and non-toxic, non-wasteful, with an emphasis on durability. I also considered all aspects of the situation to ensure we made the most educated choices we could within the overall context of the design project.
It is not just another pretty space.
So instead of focusing on whether a design was pretty or beautiful or meeting the next coolest design trend, I always looked deeper into the way the design would effect the people around it both as the ones to live or work in it, but the ones that did the work and the world surrounding it. This approach, which I tagged as Holistic way back when, was the only way in which I knew how to properly design. I felt intuitively that everything was interconnected.
Many years later, when I raised my head up from running my own boutique firm in NYC, that I noticed my approach was not all that common. In fact it was not common at all. And the world was suffering as a result of it. This was when I decided I needed to take a stand, and make small steps in the right direction. I believe that one small step, in the right direction is better than no action at all.
Life cannot be witnessed at lightening speed as well as it can at a slower pace.
Today, I still continue to grow seek and help others to start to slow down to see the world in ways that are more sustainable. Understanding everything is interconnected is the first step.
If we all can SLOW DOWN enough to ask these questions in the midst of our daily lives, in all areas both personal as well as professional, then I feel the world will become an instantly healthier place and happiness will start to flow more smoothly everywhere for everyone.
Being a sustainable person simply means you are checking to see if the things, people, relationships you surround yourself with an take part in are able to go the distance.
It is quite simple.
~S. Lee Wright
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