Why We Do Sustainability: Revelations From Nature

A lot of times, I get questions from doubtful people wondering just why this whole green movement is important and what difference it really makes. I can see how people can discount the whole notion of sustainability, but I think all efforts to tread more lightly on this planet are invaluable, and recently, I had an experience that reaffirmed my belief.

I'm currently vacationing in Europe, and was doing some hiking in an area of Switzerland called Interlaken that is known for its exquisitely pure and untouched natural scenery. My friend and I were up in the Swiss Alps and the scene that unfolded before us was ethereal.  A wide valley unfurling as far back as we could see, lush with verdant forest in the prime of spring, with powerful, tall cliffs framing the jagged glacier-capped peaks of the Alps beyond. These sentries stood guard over the idyllic green lawn of the valley floor, ancient monuments of granite symbolizing the might of Earth's geology. And everywhere on both sides, towering cascades sprung forth from the tops of the cliffs, pouring thousands of gallons of pristine glacier water down the sides of the peaks each minute, a reverberation of the pure sound of nature's greatest treasure - water -- throughout the valley.

This was Lauterbrunnen and the Valley of Waterfalls, and it was like a scene out of a movie, or nature special, or fantasized dream. Only it was real, and absolutely mind-blowing.

That's when it hit me ... this is what we work to preserve when we invest so much effort into living and working in a sustainable manner. Our planet is a beautiful planet, and we are literally sustaining treasures such as this for future generations, and it would be downright selfishness to continue wasteful practices that eventually deplete or destroy the planet's natural resources.

And really, even if it's not exotic natural beauty, there is beauty worth preserving in everyday life where most of us live, and that is worth maintaining as well.

Admittedly at that moment, I felt very much like a fervent and hardcore environmentalist (I am not quite that extreme normally), but standing there, in that valley, I was seeing with my own eyes why we should embrace more sustainable lifestyles.

When I look at the design community's increasing embrace of sustainable design, I am thankful. This world is full of things worth keeping, and I truly believe that sustainable design will play an important role in making that happen.