There are those who toss litter on the ground. There are those who drive without fastening their seat belts. There might even be a few folks who still smoke in the workplace.
Those behaviors, once common, are now throwbacks to a set of archaic public attitudes. Fortunately, attitudes and behaviors can change.
This month, which has been dubbed Sustainable September, a Spokane collaboration of commercial, government and nonprofit organizations is intent on fostering more change. They’ve filled a calendar page with activities aimed at raising community awareness about the consequences of environmental degradation. They’re plugging strategies based on green building and locally grown food. Community-Minded Enterprises, the nonprofit organization behind Sustainable September, is developing a set of measurable indicators that can help the region keep objective track of challenges from river flow to children’s readiness for school.
Significant obstacles confront this effort, starting with making a squishy term like “sustainability” understandable. And then there’s the rigidity with which so many people have locked themselves into one side or the other of the polarizing climate-change debate.
But the sustainability movement has certain things going for it, one being society’s record of eventually succumbing to the scientific, social, economic and, yes, legislated pressures that propel change. Those pressures are building. Energy prices are on the rise. The Spokane aquifer is in decline. Food prices increase amid worries about quality and safety.
The key is in reminding the public that individuals do have the capacity to effect change. Simple tasks like changing to compact fluorescent lightbulbs and properly inflating tires represent enormous savings potential. That’s why industry is at work on alternative electricity generation and hybrid as well as plug-in electric automobiles.
Come October, these challenges will still be with us, but the ideas planted during September could produce meaningful results in time.
After all, littering is now out and recycling is in, seat belts are the norm and smokers are exiled.