Fifty-one years ago, on April 22, 1970, Earth Day became a nationally celebrated holiday. This event was propelled by a growing awareness of environmental issues directly caused by human beings. Today, many people around Harding’s campus are taking initiative to lead more sustainable lives.
Senior Jared Heyen, who co-founded Sustainable Harding University (SHU), said that starting somewhere is better than not working toward a sustainable lifestyle at all.
“Little things can make a big difference,” Heyen said. “This is a big planet and it can seem like the things you do are unimportant, but if we all made a few small changes, then we could collectively make a huge difference.”
Heyen said he incorporates sustainability into his daily lifestyle through small, accessible ways.
“I ride my bike or walk places, use reusable bags for groceries, and use as little plastic as possible,” Heyen said.
Sophomore Abbi Rockwell, co-founder and president of SHU, shared that her journey began with educating herself on the importance of sustainability.
“After I made the decision to educate myself more, it was much easier to become aware of my impact and find ways to minimize and eradicate some unwanted choices that I had made,” Rockwell said.
Rockwell said that she mainly focuses on the food that she consumes and ensures that she keeps the environment in mind when choosing what to eat. She lives off of a vegan diet because it is least harmful to the planet, Rockwell said.
While many people associate the idea of sustainable living solely with the environment, it can transcend that realm, as Dr. Kathy Dillion, professor of English, pointed out.
“I think of sustainability in a broader way,” Dillion said. “Whether it is in terms of spending money, getting enough sleep, or choosing foods to eat, I try to ask myself what that pattern looks like 10 years out — can I keep doing it, or if I can, should I?”
Dillion suggested that supporting small, local businesses and farmers markets are valuable ways to live a sustainable life for yourself and for others. She also said her world perspective has evolved since she began incorporating sustainable habits into her daily lifestyle.
“My perspective has shifted to seeing the need for thinking of ourselves less as individuals with choices, to more of a united organism working to make life better for ourselves and posterity,” Dillion said.
While Dillion, Rockwell and Heyen all actively practice sustainable lifestyles in their own unique ways, one common thread connects them all: Sustainability is a marathon that begins with small, seemingly miniscule steps. Rockwell said she encourages taking these steps in order to create a better world for others.
“Progress takes time,” Rockwell said. “Find a simple, sustainable project that you can do, complete that and move onto the next one. Chances are, you will feel great after having completed the first task, which will give you motivation to start the next one.”