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Web Discussion for April 14, 2006

This week we brainstormed major technological changes throughout human history and discussed what it took to create and bring these innovations to the world. We also learned about the Tipping Point and how fashion trends, such as Hush Puppies, went from almost being discontinued by the manufacturer to reaching a “Tipping Point” by appeared in every mall in America within 2 years. We also began to brainstorm all of the environmental issues affecting Boulder County through our environmental issue hike with Lynne Sullivan and the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks. We know there are environmental issues in our community that can directly impact our health and the health of our ecosystem and planet. We also know that we have the freedom every day to make choices that are sustainable or unsustainable with regard to protecting and preserving our environment. What will it take for mainstream America to reach a “Tipping Point” in terms of making sustainable choices in their everyday lives?

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11 Responses to “Web Discussion for April 14, 2006”

  1. brittany

    Education. Until mainstream America is fully educated and has the knowledge to make the correct decisions about such things as recycling, I do not believe that there will be a huge progression in the environmental movement. How can one possibly expect another to make sustainable and environmentally healthy decisions, if they simply do not know in what ways their actions effect the environment?

    Even then, if this were to occur, it would not be enough to create life-long and sustainable changes to the how mainstream America interacts with the environment. In my opinion, it is essential that political reform occur. Leaders that respect the environment and who are willing to implement strict environmental rules and regulations need to be placed in the office by citizens. In the end it boils down to the question: what will motivate America to take better care of the plants, animals, and ecosystems that are so rapidly being destroyed? I do not know what will grab our attention if holes in the ozone, depleted resources, and extinction will not.

  2. Eric

    What will it take for mainstream America to reach a “Tipping Point” in terms of making sustainable choices in their everyday lives? The million-dollar question. Of course, Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” She means that when small, grassroots organizations get fired up and motivated, they tell people what they think. They do the small things that have huge impacts on other people, and then it becomes popular thought. That is what CAP does.

    We go out and research an issue that we care about. We go out and talk to the experts. Then, we go out and do something about it. We tell people why they should care and what they should do about it.

    In my opinion, consumers should think of sustainability as a responsibility. It will be a large-scale shift in the popular mindset, but I think with the rate that the natural, organic, and sustainable products industry is growing, we may already be on that path. Try this: Imagine living in a world where you went into the supermarket for your groceries, and instead of looking for labels that say organic or fair-trade, products were marked “Not Organic” or “This Coffee Supports Bad Foreign Work Conditions.” Would you look at those products and think “that one is cheaper than the alternative,” or would you think “that is not a responsible purchase”?

  3. rachel

    I think that for America to reach a tipping point in terms of making sustainable choices in their everyday lives is education. I don’t think that enough people know enough about the impact they have on the enviornment. I think that most people know that polution is bad for the enviornment and that SUVs pollute, but I don’t think enough people know about the alternative options like bio-diesle and certain hybrids. I don’t think that people understand that they can actually make a difference and do somthing about it.

    I think for people to reach the tipping point and to start to change the things they do everyday they need to know not only what they do wrong, like driving an SUV but they also need to understand what they can do to change it and help the situation. And when Americans have to start wearing surgical masks out of the house like in Japan then they will also start to see that they need to start doing something deiiferent.

  4. gillian

    When we listened to the first chapter of The Tipping Point in class, we learned about what it would take to create a tipping point. These criteria included “infectious behavior”, little changes with big effects, and change happening very quickly. All of these things would have to come together to create a Tipping Point in sustainable living.

    “Infectious”/Different Behavior:
    Living in Boulder, it would be hard to come across behavior that is different enough to make a spark in infectiously spreading the idea of sustainable living. Compared to the rest of the nation, Boulder lives with much concern for the environment and sustaining our natural resources. But if you look at a city like Omaha, Neb., you will find a literal industrial wasteland, filled to the brim with packed freeways of gas-guzzling SUVs, infinite amounts of construction sites, and littering like it’s going out of style. Adopting solar power, organic living, recycling and composting, and buying friendly materials would be a far larger difference and infectious change in Omaha, a city that rarely sees anything like that. I also believe that different behavior must catch peoples’ attention before it can become infectious. There must be an element of curiosity—something so different, and yet so interesting that people just have to take notice of it. Successfully adopting a sustainable way of living in Omaha is just that sort of thing.

    Little Changes with BIG effects:
    Now, while adopting sustainable ways of living in Omaha is a big difference that could become infectious, it is hardly a tiny change. It would involve a literal overhauling of a person’s lifestyle—a task that demands much money, resources, education, and time. In order to find the smallest change that can be made, you would have to look at what Omaha would need most to tip it in a direction that includes sustainable living. Now, this sort of study would take months, maybe years, but for the purpose of this journal, let’s say that the “smallest big thing” would be creating a solid recycling program. Currently, the City of Omaha has a citywide single-stream recycling program that picks up regular used paper and containers marked with a 1 or 2. This is a service that put a burden of cost on the consumer, and it doesn’t reach that many people, anyway. The program runs through most of downtown Omaha, a place where many families can’t afford comprehensive recycling costs and few businesses actually care.

    So, what does all of this mean in terms of small change, big effects? If the City of Omaha were to implement a free, countywide (rather than citywide—it reaches far more people who can afford it and have the time to recycle) comprehensive recycling program, offering bins and pick-up to everyone who needed it, suddenly people would have no choice but to recycle. Just the act of Omaha families recycling their paper or milk bottles would decrease the cost of land filling for the city, which would allow more money to be put into the new program. It could be based off of San Francisco’s “Fantastic 3”, a small change in the form of three bins (recyclables, compostables, and “other”) that increased the city’s overall recycling about 90%.

    • You’ve crunched all of your numbers. The project looks like it will be costly in the beginning, but with success, it will wind up making double, maybe even triple, the money back in a short amount of time.
    • You know the benefits of recycling and composting, alternative energy, alternative fuel, public transportation, not littering, keeping the water sources clean, and trail maintenance. You know that people want to start breathing better air and enjoying the outdoors far more than they are now.
    • You have support.

    What are you waiting for?

    This is the fun part, in my opinion. Nobody ever got anything done by sitting on their rear-ends all day complaining about the state of the environment. If you have an idea that you think will catch on, go for it! Those kids in New York didn’t think twice about if they looked cool wearing Hush Puppies. It caught on because it was the new, fun, hip way to look. That’s what sustainable living can be: a new, fun, hip way to live. We just have to go for it!

    And, since I’m on a roll, I just wanted to respond to what the other posters have said about education. I agree. People should be informed and concerned about the state of the environment in order to take a solid stand in their communities. But I also feel like the more important role to take is that of a leader and doer. Education takes time, and a Tipping Point can’t be reached slowly and surely—it has to be an explosion of a new, creative idea. Sort of a learn-as-you-go approach, I suppose.

  5. Noah

    What does it take for people to care? What does it take for one person to care? What does it take for me to care? I really don’t know. I am the way I am because of the way I was raised, and maybe because of my personality/soul/whatever. We obviously can’t bring the world back to childhood again and raise them right. We can help bring awareness to new generations, but I’m not sure if that will be enough. I guess we have to try anyways. We go out and bring as much awareness of issues to people as we can; we try and change people’s thought systems as much as possible. Are we making progress or are more ignorant people being born faster than we can get to them? Again, I suppose it doesn’t matter. We have to believe we’re making progress or there’s no point. But is there anything we can do to make sure we’re making progress? We’re all trying as hard as we feel we can. It seems like we (those who care about the world) need some sort of revolutionary idea, some sort of direction that we’re not taking now to be sure we’re making a change. I believe awareness in this world is rising. If the world had a “tipping” point that would be wonderful, but it seems like this whole process is happening rather slowly and still the condition of this world isn’t getting any better. Pollution levels are as bad as ever, species become extinct by the day, I don’t get it.

    I have hope, I mean I got to have at least that, but sometimes it’s hard when there isn’t proof. I feel a lack of energy sometimes when a I spend lot of effort to go out and do something productive and then see a hundred times more people being destructive. I don’t think it’s because people are trying to be hurtful in general. They just don’t care. They need motivation. For that, I think maybe people need to be taught how the environment affects them personally. That air and water pollution shortens them and their loved ones life spans. That those pristine environments that they dream of going to someday won’t be there if life continues as it is.

  6. Tristan

    I think that as much as education needs to be improved, the American public will not truly embrace sustainability until it becomes convenient. Most everything that is a success in the United States is based on enjoyment and more so convenience. All our cars, big plushy SUVs, old muscle cars and even our fuel efficient alternatives. The hybrids sell because people want to spend less on gas and save the environment, these people enjoy the outdoors and also want to save money.

    Until sustainability is truly convenient the entire public will overall ignore it. What we can do is make these things more convenient by increasing demand. This is what our goal should be, if we increase the demand enough we will bring something to a tipping point.

    He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare
    And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.
    Ali bin Abi-Talib

  7. Becca

    I believe for mainstream America to reach a tipping point we need to be educated on the environment more. Until mainstream America is educated and knowledgable we aren’t making the right decisions in the environment we will not reach a tipping point. People need to know what they are doing to harm the environment and know what to do to change it.

    Global Response has a community of people who find sever problems that can be changed easily, they have kids and adults write letters to the government of those troubled places telling them what is going wrong and ways to help. I believe that if everyone could be so well educated about the problems that are happening and have happened in the past, the earth would be a lot happier.

    Some people don’t really care about what they are doing to the environment, because they don’t know enough to care. These are the people that will start riding the bus to work or car-pooling with friends. Other people don’t really care because they are lazy. These are the people that don’t believe fuel for their car will run out one day. But for the population of people who do want to make a difference, even posting fliers on boards at offices or handing them out on the street would educate them to the point where the know what to do to help though it may only be a little bit.

    When all of these people take action, (including us in CAP) I believe than and only than will mainstream America be able to reach a tipping point in making sustainable choices in everyday life!

  8. Torie

    What will it take for mainstream America to reach a “Tipping Point” in terms of making sustainable choices in their everyday lives? I think awareness and education are the biggest factors. I have an aunt, uncle, and cousin who live in Tulsa, OK. Their life-style is simply not environmentally friendly; they always drive, consume non-organic food, and don’t recycle. Their families did not make them aware of these issues and there is a chance that their son will not learn environmental friendly, every day patterns as well. The good news is they are probably going to get recycling after people like myself have made them aware. This same type of deal goes on everywhere in the world. Education on how to recycle and to pick up your doggy poop, awareness of what is happening in the environment- I think if we keep doing what we are doing we will be headed in the right direction. I have seen growth already!

  9. Eric

    I have a question for all of my fellow CAPers.

    I think this is a great discussion, and I’m hearing a lot about education. Tell me this:
    Have you been educated sufficiently? Where/how were you educated on these topics, or if not, why not? Do other people in the larger community outside of our class and New Vista get educated? How or why not?

  10. Hawk

    What will it take for mainstream America to reach a “Tipping Point” in terms of making sustainable choices in their everyday lives? Probably being more informed about their enviroment and the water that they drink.

  11. prasun

    In order to reach a tipping point, people will need to be educated and know actually how serious this problem is. I mean you can say “well you should stop throwing trash into the stream”… but who is really going to remember that? We have to embed this information into people’s minds. For instance put signs up that are “in your face” style, people will notice signs and will actually remember if it is outstanding and can be noticed.


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