Name: Alea Coble
Position: Part Time Creative Director
“What does sustainability mean to you?”
"Sustainability is a form of consciousness -- a way of seeing and valuing life. To build, operate a business, or live sustainably means thinking about the future and the impact of one’s actions. It’s taking responsibility for yourself and your presence. Environmental sustainability is taking ownership of the economic and ecological health of your environment. My understanding of what 'sustainability' means has evolved over the years.
I was lucky to grow up in a home where my parents exposed me to the value of nature quite early. In second grade, I wrote a letter to the president asking him to stop the destruction of the rainforest, and I included drawings of endangered rainforest animals from my classmates and myself. Six weeks later, I received an photograph of George W. and Laura Bush. Despite a disappointing response, what started as a reaction to a Discovery Channel documentary has evolved into a lens through which I question the world around me.
“What is the lifecycle of this plastic bottle? Where did this shirt come from, and who made it? How far did this banana travel before reaching the store? How much oil was used to make, ship, process, and construct my house?”
I used to think sustainability was solely about ecological conservation. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized more and more that sustainability is about acknowledging the dependence we have on environmental health and asking, 'What can I do?' to nourish this connection. Sustainability is realizing that the 'environment' does not exist in a vacuum, nor do your choices. The health of the dirt under your feet, the water in the river, and the air after rush-hour affects our physical health.
Now, I want emphasize that economic aspect of sustainability. The 'green guilt trip' is lost on me as well as many others who care about the environment, but also need to pay bills. To me, sustainability is about realism as much as it is about environmental health.
Empower Chattanooga is a great example of a sustainable organization as its primary focus is helping residents save money on their utility bills. Workshops teaching low and no cost energy saving habits that include a free starter kit containing weatherizing tools, teach attendants how to save energy. By focusing on the realistic needs of everyday people, the results are two-fold: saving money and conserving energy. I worked with this organization for two years as in intern, and this was my first introduction to a definition of sustainability that extended beyond conservation or green idealism.
Sustainability is respect -- respect for the physical earth, human, and non-human life. Sustainability is a way of seeing. Sustainability is thinking of your neighbor.
Also, as an artist, I am intrigued by material. Before creating a sculpture, I am always considering the history, cultural context, and lifecycle of any material that I use. Why should I think any differently about the materials that I use everyday?
Now, as part time Creative Director at Green’s, I am excited to help our team achieve B-Corp certification as we help homeowners build healthier homes. Using locally sourced, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly materials, we aim, as B- Corp states so well, to 'be the best FOR the world.'"