Sustainability: Caring for the Environment & Earth

By Gary Hibbs
Executive Director and Sustainability Committee member

In 1985, Robert Bellah and others first published a provocative book called Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life. The book challenges the reader to look beyond individual self-interest, and move toward improving our greater community and environment. In order to create a better community and world, we need to be intentional in thinking about how our individual selves impact our world.

This is a question that the Riderwood Sustainability Committee always entertains with every meeting. Co-Chair Jim Henkelman-Bahn begins each meeting asking every member, “What have you individually done since we last met in regard to sustainability?” And, we each have to answer the question, every meeting. The repeated focus surely helps change habits. I know it raises my consciousness regarding sustainability. Caring for the environment and the earth starts with each of us as individuals, with our engaging in habits that go outside of our own convenience and initial inclinations. These small, individual efforts in sustainability are critical.

To “prime your pump” in thinking about sustainability, I can give you just a sampling of what individuals are doing here: keeping lights off in unused spaces; turning off TVs and computers when not in use; using environmentally safe cleaning agents; recycling everything they possibly can; taking their own shopping bags when going to the store; keeping their car engine well-tuned to reduce gasoline use and polluting exhausts; using every piece of paper that’s printed on only one side for notes or printing that is later only used for their own use; picking up trash along the way when walking around; recycling home computers and other electronic items through the mail-in return process; recycling and properly disposing of unused medications, pills and ointments; and minimizing water use when bathing, brushing teeth or washing dishes and clothes.

In fact, speaking of water use, I just heard about something called a “water pebble” from fellow committee member John Porter . Have you ever heard of a “water pebble”? Look it up! It’s a water activated timer that trains us to stop using too much water in the shower! I need one of those for my kid’s bathroom. (And, truth be told, I need one, too.)

Let’s all do our part, and change the sustainability habits of our heart! Are you in?


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