TerraBluTeams Practice #4

This week I, as founder, introduced my own community to TerraBluTeams. As a very shy, private person, I’m not a very gifted public speaker.

As a former professor I found it easy to lecture, engage students and facilitate their application of the knowledge they were seeking. However, in the classroom it’s a given that they are there to seek what you have to give. Don’t get me wrong; there is plenty of challenge in that arena between student and teacher.

What I’ve learned over the last year speaking about sustainability to the general public, as well as to sustainability practitioners, is that there is much confusion, misperception and distrust surrounding what sustainability means, and how to achieve it, if ever.

My audience members tell me they have been deceived by corporations with “green washing”, deceived by their governments for decades with “hollow funding”, ruined by bankers, brokers and greedy employers with overwork, underpayment for value, deceptive practices, useless products that don’t last or are not upgradable, depreciating benefits, and bottom line strategies that don’t work. The list goes on. And as if that weren’t enough by the way, our planet cannot sustain its own inhabitants. (In case you are wondering, I’m part of the 99% referred to in the OWS movement).

TerraBluTeams is about walking the talk. So I encourage them to stop pointing fingers at others and get out there and do the work by making smarter and more informed choices. Change from the grassroots level, from the bottom up as opposed to waiting for others to tell them what to buy, eat, drive, etc. from the top down.

And one person in the audience at the launch event this week asked me what my definition of sustainability was and some things I would recommend doing immediately that would have an impact towards creating a more sustainable world.

So let’s address what sustainability means and give you five sustainability practices you can do this week to start decreasing your behavior’s footprint on the quadruple bottom line. (See definitions below.)

I like this definition of sustainability: Enough for all forever, its something we can all aspire to achieve. There are others YOU may prefer, (again, see definitions below).

My ancestors lived their lives sustainably. You could define their lifestyles now as a closed loop eco-system, but they didn’t use those terms back then. They lived by what I refer to as the Quadruple Bottom line: concern, care, respect for their environmental, social, economic and cultural impact. And in my humble opinion, that’s the kind of human community I want to live in.

So for fun, we at TerraBluTeams suggest we play “What are your Top Five…” as I often do with my daughter. These are OUR top five things you can do to quickly reduce your water and carbon footprint on the planet, and explore that quadruple bottom line.

The What and How:

“Top Five” Week. We suggest doing one or all of these five practices. California reduced its need for ten power plants because 15% of their residents reduced their energy and water consumption behaviors voluntarily by educating themselves with some of these same practices.

Imagine what we could do if we tried all five!

1. Get a free energy home audit. Most of these audits are quite complete and come with prioritized steps of importance to increase and optimize your home’s energy efficiency. There is an investment up front, however, the energy savings over time is considerable and worth it. Much can be financed by rebates, tax deductions and future energy cost savings. Change out old appliances for Energy star appliances. Before you even think about solar and windmills, this needs to be done first.

2. Have your air quality and water checked out. Learn about what your body is taking in and what your home is putting out into the world. Start using cold water and cold water cleaning products. We’ll be doing a lot with water practices in March.

Before I even buy a home I’m checking out the materials it was constructed with as many can exude toxic chemicals by them or when wet or overheated.

Another practice I perform with a new home purchase is a thorough HEPA cleaning, wire scrubbing and examination of all the air vents. We’ve found everything from construction workers tools, to the petrified burgers from the lunches they dropped down there as well as a few squirrels, mice and other creatures. Don’t forget to recycle all materials found properly.

3. If you haven’t done this already, try it this weekend: Change all your light bulbs out and eliminate energy vampirism. Learn about which ones you need (LED & CFL’s). They cost a tad more, but the decreased wattage usage will pay them off in less than a year and they last for 8-10 years.

4. Engage. By socializing more, connecting with your community and learning about its resources (you can share them and offer some), it’s cultural and spiritual centers (enrich your life), have fun (laughter will increase your life span), save money (increase your wallet), volunteer your services (share with others-which feels great!) and become part of the network where opportunity thrives.

Buy local, rethink your transportation and travel choices, reduce your GHG emissions as they reached record levels in 2011.

5. Check out your community’s cultural and spiritual centers. Go to the local museum, library, history center, synagogue, church, temple, Buddhist retreat, Well-being Center, nature preserve, zoo, botanical gardens, comedy club, you get the idea. If your budget is tight, your library often has free passes.

We would love your feedback and comments on how you are doing with these practices and tips and tricks of your own.

The Deep Dive:

The three pillar approach: Economic, Social, Environmental, ( TBL: triple bottom line as defined by the UN)

Triple bottom line definition here.

The Brundtland definition of sustainability, “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” From the Brundtland Commission Report 1987.

Learn the emerging different definitions of the quadruple bottom line here, here, and here.

Why you should clean your air ventilation system here.

How to get a free energy audit in Ipswich, MA, here and free water audit here or in other areas of Massachusetts, here. Or contact your local utility or town officials.

Learn more about why you should use cold water here.

Learn more about toxic building materials here.

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