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Sustainability 4: A New Mantra

Updated on May 12, 2013
Reach out to make a difference
Reach out to make a difference

The mantra for many of those involved in green or environmentally-friendly design has long been ‘Reduce • Reuse • Recycle’. In fact, for the past several decades, that three-word mantra has also been made part of many green stickers and tag lines applied to products, policies, public service messages, and advertising the world over.

That mantra typically translates to the following:

Reduce wherever possible one’s use of just about any natural resource, material, labor, technology, fuel or other exhaustible substance — soil, water, air, land area, plant material, metals, stone, coal, oil, electricity, natural gas, fuel, timber, paper, plastic, solvents, man-hours, dollars, etc.

Reuse wherever possible previously used and salvageable resources, materials or products — steel sections, metal studs, windows, old brick, rebuilt engines, salvaged light fixtures, refurbished appliances, reupholstered chairs, repainted furnishings and fixtures, crushed concrete, chipped wood, cleaned ceiling tiles, shredded tires and sneakers, etc. Reused land developments, buildings and facilities may also be termed repurposed, as they are put to new or adaptive uses.

Recycle wherever possible resources, materials or products back into the chain of manufacture through a variety of means — aluminum, steel, paper, copper, batteries, cell phones, toner cartridges, circuit boards, memory chips, valuable metals, sawdust, chipped wood, ground concrete, ground glass, shredded denim, shredded newsprint, fly ash, etc.

For the purposes of these continuing articles, I will expand on that original mantra to create a new five-part mantra: ‘Reduce • Reuse • Recycle • Buy Local • Affiliate’.

Buying local to a project, development or building can significantly reduce or eliminate the energy and resource costs of transporting goods and services longer distances, while also contributing to the sustainability of local businesses, jobs, tax base, and community.

Affiliating with sustainably responsible partners, vendors, suppliers, contractors, and end users, etc, can insure that others involved with your ever-greening design efforts are in fact ever-greening themselves, for a greater, better overall eventual impact on the sustainability of your community and the planet.

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