While the definition of sustainability can be interpreted in many different ways, the word today seems to have settled as a reference to human practices that promote environmentally-conscious living. Although it can be difficult to understand where the plethora of metal straw pictures are coming from, or why so many of your friends are going vegan, there are many different reasons behind the fad.
For senior environmental science major Emily Jenkins, one of the reasons for the sweep of environmental consciousness is due to basic societal culture. She explains that because of the trend with reusable items, such as Hydroflasks, students are choosing to more sustainable products, but mostly “by style.” For her, if people took action in a deeper way, there could be a bigger impact, both globally and politically. Jenkins continues, saying, “If society changed, people would change. But it is slowly changing, as people’s minds are changing and becoming more environmentally aware.”
Another reason, especially pertinent to Point Loma students, has to do with faith. Jenkins says, “I feel like as Christians, it’s our duty to take care of the planet and a world that is scarily not being taken care of.” For many who come to Point Loma for its faith-based teachings, this is an important point. Of course not everyone at the university is a believer, but many of those who are Christians recognize sustainability as God’s age-old command to be good stewards of His creation.
Even aside from faith-driven reasons, many people who practice earth-conscious living simply want a cleaner planet. In response to why she went vegetarian and has been shifting more to vegan, freshman Sarah Hall says her research into the “awful” effects of greenhouse emissions changed her perspective. She says, “We only have one planet, so I think it’s really important to treat it well and to try to keep it as healthy as possible.” For those like Hall, reducing meat consumption is not just a health issue or something cool to put in your Instagram bio, but it comes down to preserving the earth and treating it with respect.
Dr. Mike Mooring, a biology professor at Point Loma, furthers the importance of preserving the earth, pointing out potential future implications of not doing so, posing a question that simplifies the essence of what sustainability comes down to: “What kind of world is your kid going to inherit?” For him, while faith is a reason for his approach to sustainability, he also encourages others to consider what stewardship of the earth means in regards to ensuring a good future. This shifts sustainable living from an immediate personal act to a much more long-term ponderance.
These are just some of the reasons behind why the environmental consciousness may have more significance than it seems. To those who want to make that change but don’t know where to start, Mooring offers a piece of advice. “Educate yourself a little,” he says, “and then start with one thing.”