Newly Sustainable

April 20, 2011

By Nick Braica, Second Nature Communications Intern

(This post is part of a weekly series by the Second Nature team about why we do what we do.)

Why do I work at Second Nature? Because I like the idea of saving the world.

The main idea that was pounded into me while I was reviewing and editing footage for the Second Nature videowas that we only have this one earth to live on. And as our president Anthony Cortese pointed out, all of the living systems on this planet are in long-term decline due to the fact that our resources are not unlimited, yet we still use them as such. Of course, the doomsday prophesies may be a little extreme for this generation, but the point stands: we’ve got nowhere else to go, and if we continue on our current unsustainable path, we’re going to run out of stuff in the future.

Nick Braica on Borestone Mountain in Maine

I’ll be the first to admit, the fight for sustainability was not one I was very aware of even a few months ago. Sure, we recycled and had a compost pile at home, but growing up, those were just things we took for granted living in my parent’s house. It never went much further than the unconscious action of rinsing out the milk carton and throwing it into the single-stream recycling barrel (which when it came out, I loved since you don’t have to sort your recycling). Nothing really changed either when I came to Boston for school and began living on my own, except maybe the fact that a compost pile is really the best place for dining hall food, so I started composting more.

It wasn’t a blatant disregard for sustainability; it was the simple fact that nobody ever mentioned sustainability or green living in my high school outside the context of gas prices, which skyrocketed as soon as I got my license. But oil consumption was essentially the only facet of green living I was ever confronted with, and it was really the green in my wallet that mattered to me. We used to joke about global warming, and how it is something everyone should be looking forward to. After all, if you tell me that it could be 80 degrees and sunny all year round in New England, I’m going to ask how I can help to get us there. Obviously, our science books didn’t include the effects of climate change.

Kids go to college to learn. Include sustainability in the culture and curriculum of their learning, and they’ll learn that, too.

I understand that this upbringing doesn’t speak to why I work at Second Nature. Really, it’s a testament to how beneficial it is to the world that I do now work here and have been exposed to the benefits of sustainability. There’s now one less ignorant kid inadvertently driving humans towards their destruction. Ironically, that’s pretty much our mission; just on a much larger scale, and through education that I, for example, never received coming through school. Which is why it’s truly brilliant to be targeting institutes of higher learning. Kids go to college to learn. Include sustainability in the culture and curriculum of their learning, and they’ll learn that too, making it become second nature. It’s really just common sense.

For me, this whole sustainability swing is more than just changing your lifestyle to fit the ways of green living. Looking at the different programs and initiatives that, for example, Second Nature develops and supports, you see a sort of community around this whole ideal, especially in the context of colleges and universities. It’s more than just facts and figures, it’s a cool, fun thing to do and believe in, given the culture behind this environmental consciousness. It’s hard not to get involved in the dynamic activity of so many people, for a cause that makes so much sense to begin with yet doesn’t take much effort to keep up with.

It’s not even that I’ve drastically changed my way of life. I still recycle, compost, bike to work, try to conserve energy in my apartment, and all those other little things that (hopefully) make an individual impact. I’m simply more conscious of the fact that I do it, and I can appreciate and understand what I’m working towards. And all of that comes from working at Second Nature and being exposed to the issue that faces us each and every day.

So back to saving the world. Now that I am here and fully on board this alternative energy ship, it’s interesting to see how my attitude has changed. And it’s not enough that my point of view has been altered; in this type of a cause, you can’t help but try to convince others to live sustainably as well. Yes, that is my job, being in the communications department, but it’s also something I’ve been able to take home with me to share with my family and friends. Likewise, they share with their family and friends, and so the pyramid scheme unfolds; and in this case, it ends with the world being a healthier, sustainable, resourceful place. Nobody said saving the world had to be hard.

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