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sustainability Tag

Nowadays, more and more people are doing their part to be ‘green.’ People all over the country are greening their homes with solar panels, solar water heaters, trash compactors, low water use plumbing fixtures, energy efficient light bulbs and mechanical units. The hybrid car is selling like hot cakes and the all-electric car is gaining in popularity as well. Governments and other organizations are beginning to require that all new buildings are built to LEED standards, with each building aiming to be more sustainable and ecologically friendly. Together, each of these tactics plays a huge role in transforming the way we have been living into a more eco-friendly way of life – or so we believe. In reality, true sustainability has been contaminated by companies, governments and other organizations who want us to believe that we are being green. By creating eco-friendly products, promoting green technologies, eco vacations, etc. – we’ve bought into the idea that sustainability is just another thing to obtain. But it’s not a gadget or technology – it’s a context.  Sustainability is not a micro phenomenon applied to individual components, it is a network of deeply interdependent relationships, a way of living that goes beyond a product or service you can purchase.

I once had a conversation with a pro-suburbanite about why I loved the city. Their response was common and concise, “I love living closer to nature too much to live in the city." Actually, to say I "once" had this conversation is an under exaggeration. In fact, that is one of the most common justifications I hear in response to asking people why they chose to live in the suburbs.

The Paradox of Suburbia

On the surface, this statement actually seems quite valid. I lived in the suburbs and I felt much closer to nature when I was there than I do now in the city. Cities are our urban cores at the center of the surrounding suburbs and, naturally, the further out from the city you are, the more likely you will be closer to nature. So if you are a nature lover then you probably want to live in the suburbs, and if you are an urbanite, you probably want to live in the city, right? Well, not so fast. There is something paradoxical about this belief. Suburbia is actually the leading cause of environmental destruction in the United States. No other phenomenon has caused as many acres of forest to be destroyed here.