An excellent visual to remind us of how all our cultures are connected is a spider web. Our planet is one huge spider web, which is part of an even bigger spider web known as the universe. Growing up, I often heard the saying, “think globally, act locally”.  As I got older and learned more about our environment and how we are all affected by issues like pollution and violence in some way or another, I became more dedicated to doing my part in building a more positive world. With this article, I hope to inspire you to also become more dedicated to building a sustainable world-wide culture.

What does sustainable mean? Well, the most simple dictionary definition I could find is: “able to be maintained or kept going”, which I think is a pretty good summary. We want to be able to maintain our planet as a healthy place to live in and we want to keep our lives going so that we can have fun and enjoy the things we love to do. But if we are not careful about certain things we do, then our planet will become polluted to the point where human beings will no longer be able to survive. Our species will then become extinct, just like dinosaurs did, except dinosaurs couldn’t do anything about a meteor crashing into Earth. We, human beings, can do something about the issues that threaten our survival!

Each of our cultures is kind of like an ecosystem. What is an ecosystem? It describes the biological environment in which organisms live in, like coral reefs or the tropical rainforest. The ecosystem also includes all the different things organisms need in order to survive, such as clean water, sunlight, and food.

Coral reefs are as important to our oceans as tropical rainforests are to our lands. Both provide homes for various types of animal species, which us humans, also depend on for our survival. Coral reefs are home to 25% of all sea-life species; tropical rainforests are home to more than 50% of all land species. And both these ecosystems are crucial foundations in the larger spider web of life we all depend on for survival, which is why it is so essential that we all do our part to build and maintain a culture of sustainability.

Air, soil, & water pollution, destructive fishing techniques, genetically modified organisms, and deforestation are all things we need to be aware of and do something about so that this doesn’t continue to happen. Unfortunately, many corporations still practice these harmful habits and they don’t care because it makes them a lot of money. But if people take action, then these things wouldn’t happen anymore.

What can we do about it? Plenty! Here are some starter ideas, but this is what your internet, local libraries, and community centers are good for- get involved someway, somehow and please do your part towards building and maintaining a sustainable culture.

1) Take care of yourself by eating as healthy as possible & getting regular physical exercise.

2) Reduce trash by reusing and recycling as much as you can.

3) Be proactive about supporting businesses that are practicing sustainable methods and boycott businesses that are just making money from polluting the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the oceans we swim in.

4) Pressure our elected leaders so that they are accountable.

5) Raise awareness in your circle of friends, at your school, workplace, and social media outlets about these very serious & important issues, using whatever way you best express yourself: drawing, singing, writing, dancing, theatre, rapping, film-making…the possibilities are endless!

And here are some websites that have excellent information, toolkits, videos, and other resources to help you be as sustainable as possible:

* nongmoshoppingguide.com

* naturalnews.com

* permaculture.org

We can also think of our neighborhoods as an ecosystem. Us human beings need clean air, water and healthy food in order to survive. But as beings with emotions and thoughts, we also need safe, violent-free  neighborhoods, friendships, and relationships. So anything you do to be more positive and have more positive interactions with other people is a contribution towards building a fun and sustainable world-wide culture!

Kaira Portillo

Kaira Portillo

Kaira Portillo-Espinoza was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. She is grateful for having grown up around such a wide spectrum of diversity, which makes the Bay Area the unique place it is. Her first published book, Poems About This Roller-Coaster Ride Called Life, is a collection of poems she wrote throughout high school and college and explores issues of injustice, resistance, sexuality, and empowerment. See more articles by this author >