Not all teachers are in schools, but it is a good place to start. Image courtesy Monbus via Envato.

When I think about my journey to sustainability awareness, the word “teacher” springs forth. Perhaps it’s the same for you? When you look back, do you remember an elementary school teacher introducing you to “do not litter” campaigns? Or did a science teacher teach you about atoms, molecules, energy, and waves?

Perhaps it was a personal life experience outdoors that made you curious about the world. Did Nature show you that, like the trees, you have a trunk and limbs?

Think of your teachers… family, friends, authors, professors, pastors, priests, rabbis, and songwriters, for instance.

Do you remember specific moments of guidance that helped you see something differently?

As we learn, we start connecting the dots, which can lead us in really interesting directions. For me, some of these connections prompted me to get involved with environmental issues I care about. I became engaged around sustainability long before global warming became a thing, and before Swedish teen environmental activist, Greta Thunberg’s heartfelt pleas began.

The Chattahoochee River at sunset is a wonderful and beautiful place to spend an evening. Image courtesy Joannaricht via Twenty20.

I was a Program Manager at a university and was asked to assist with a program and video on the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers’ Adopt a Stream program. Then when I was made aware that the university’s custodial staff was emptying trash into the bins designated for paper recycling, contaminating tons of paper, I created a course for campus employees called “Why Recycle?”

My passion grew as I created other classes, and I also helped start the Recycling Committee at my congregation, getting them to replace the plastic utensils and styrofoam coffee cups. Additionally, in order to educate our congregation, we installed bins labeled “clean paper only” and “plastic only.” Then we submitted our application (and earned) the Green Sanctuary Certificate from Interfaith Power and Light. Low flush toilets and timed light switches were subsequently installed, and plans were also approved for solar panels.

I became even more active when I learned about the devastating effects of coal ash in our water and how certain disadvantaged communities have suffered as a result. These days, I focus on my high hopes for what is happening in the world of biomimicry and have led a Zoom class on this topic.

3 Ways Biomimicry Brings Nature’s Designs to Sustainable Architecture
Etsy’s Town Hall space, adorned with locally made paper lanterns and flanked by greenscaping. Courtesy of Garrett Rowland/Gensler.

Despite everything I have learned, I realized there is a lot of bad environmental news out there, and eventually, I decided to look for some good news instead. I was delighted to find HappyEcoNews.com. It is a great source worth sharing. I would personally like to thank Grant for teaching us and lifting our spirits.

Enough about me! When was your tipping point? When did you decide to get involved with sustainability issues?

I’m sure you agree – we should have much gratitude for our many teachers – the inspiring people who have helped shape who we are and how we view our world; the world we’re all fighting for.

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