Editorial: Sustainability Can Be Taught

(Image credit: SCN)

When I was but a wee lad, some people in positions of power in my school district decided to cram two agendas down the throats of the impressionable schoolchildren. The first was the adoption of the metric system. This should have been a no-brainer. All measurements based on factors of 10—that's easy, right?

SCN Sustainability Issue

(Image credit: Future)

However, the metric transition was a colossal failure in the United States. Today, about the only remnants of the effort are 2-liter soda bottles, 5K races, and certain medications (because 250 mg sounds a lot more impressive than .0088 ounces when you have a wicked headache).

Why did it fail? The whole deci vs. deca thing certainly didn't aid the effort, but perhaps the U.S. population simply had too much invested in speedometers, thermometers, and recipe books to ever change. I imagine some apron-clad doting grandmother armed with a rolling pin declaring they could pry her measuring spoons from her cold, dead hands.

[Hey Google, What's On the Menu?]

The second agenda item was conservation. This one has had more staying power, perhaps because we were given comic books with popular characters like Mickey Mouse. There was also a Schoolhouse Rock episode, "The Energy Blues," so that helped.

Mickey Mouse and Goofy Explore Energy

This comic book from 1976 was one of a handful used to teach children about energy conservation. (Image credit: The Walt Disney Company)

I guess the comic books worked. I've always considered myself a steward of the environment. You won't find me hugging trees or throwing food on priceless works of art, but since elementary school, I've been trying to leave the planet in a little better condition. My family recycled newspapers back then; today, you can add glass, aluminum, and plastic products to that list. I'm also the guy who brings his outdated electronics to the county recycling center, keeps reusable bags at the ready in my truck for grocery shopping, and doesn't throw litter on the side of the highway.

These days, conservation is more mainstream, as it's part of an all-encompassing movement called sustainability. Of course, sustainability is a very, very broad concept.  In 2015, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that touch on everything from poverty to infra­structure to world peace.  

[How Fast Is Pro AV's Carousel of Progress?]

To me, though, the core of the sustainability movement is built around conserving resources and minimizing the mess we leave behind. Reduce, reuse, recycle—yeah, I've been on board for decades, and I'm hoping more people will join me.

Which brings us to our first Sustainability Issue. These days, plenty of Pro AV manufacturers and organizations are working toward more environmentally friendly practices. You can read about some of them here and hopefully many more in future issues. After all, conservation has come a long way since the 1970s, but our industry still has many miles—or kilometers—to go.

Mark J. Pescatore
Content Director

Mark J. Pescatore, Ph.D., is the content director of Systems Contractor News. He has been writing about Pro AV industry for more than 25 years. Previously, he spent more than eight years as the editor of Government Video magazine. During his career, he's produced and hosted two podcasts focused on the professional video marketplace, taught more than a dozen college communication courses, co-authored the book Working with HDV, and co-edited two editions of The Guide to Digital Television.