Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility


It’s always interesting to see how things evolve. Having attended the Sustainability Forum last fall led by Rep. Larry Seaquist, I was very interested in seeing the discussion move forward. Although I was not able to participate with the group that formed upon conclusion of the forum, I am glad to see they have found a way to move the discussion to the larger community.

Next weekend is the Great Peninsula Future Festival. On Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 2 and 3, Port Gamble will host the event. In keeping with its intent that learning should be fun, there are lots of activities for all ages. There is live music and entertainment, food, crafts, a trash art contest and displays where one can find out about sustainability and how to help keep Kitsap and environs green and clean.

This is not a political event — just a look at the sponsors and supporters shows the broad-based appeal of this festival. Organizations range from the Home Builders Association of Kitsap to Olympic Property Group to Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning. All are committed to doing what they can to make our area a better place for all.

But, they cannot do it without the community. That is where the festival comes in. It is an easy, relaxing way to take in good information about leaving a smaller footprint on the earth. Theme areas include energy consumption/generation, environmental preservation, transportation, green building, recycling and buying local. With that variety, it would be very hard to walk away without finding something one could do differently to be a better steward of the earth.

Given the state of the economy, this festival comes at an opportune time. It should not be a surprise that some sustainable practices are reminiscent of things people did during the Great Depression. These have the double benefit of doing good for the earth while saving money at the same time.

For example, instead of throwing perfectly good reusable items out, the idea is to give them another life doing either something similar or something else. An empty Clorox container, with a few judicious cuts, can be used as a toilet brush holder. Cleaned up plastic food containers can be used to store supplies, hardware or become drawer organizers. Shipping boxes, padded envelopes and packing material can be reused. All that is needed is new packing tape, labels and markers to cover over old mailing information.

Or, one can go to even higher heights and turn clean trash/future recyclables into art. The festival is holding such an art contest for participants of all ages. The artwork can be 2 or 3-D with awards being handed out on Sunday. Who knows? A budding artist may be found.

And that art is a viable commodity. One of my favorite places to see found artwork is the public art installation at a Seattle City Light substation in northeast Seattle. The artwork is a collection of mobiles and wind vanes. It makes one rethink throwing out used kitchen utensils, flatware, pots, pans and more. There also is a gallery in Ballard where the artist creates representational sculpture out of car parts, machine parts, horseshoes and other metal items. This shows a level of creativity in seeing items as more than what they were originally intended for.

Sustainability does mean rethinking how we do things. It can mean a change in one’s behavior. It means thinking about what we use, buy and throw out. But, if we believe that where we live is worth some effort, then what we learn at the festival will help.

The era of a disposable society has got to come to an end. Neither we nor our environment can afford us not changing our ways.

Val Torrens covers local issues for the Central Kitsap Reporter and North Kitsap Herald.

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