By Denaye Hinds
OVER THE YEARS, we have heard words and phrases like eco-friendly, green, eco-conscious, eco-lodge, go-green, greening our bottom line, conserving, preserving, sustaining.
All of these relate to the act of considering the environment, being more conscious and wanting to market or consider something, anything and everything to be green.
Sustainability became a word that encompassed all of the above, as it sought to reconcile many different catchphrases and ideas of the “verde” journey so many of us decided or had been ingrained to take.
The point was not only the conservation of the environment, but also delving into the social-cultural nature and economics.
With sustainability, we finally had a word which was universal and complete.
But then came the curveball — the ability of society to over-complicate, confuse and force us to re-examine the question: what is sustainability and what does it mean?? Here we go again! It was back to the drawing board.
After traveling the Caribbean, which I often do for work (being an island girl and having the desire to focus my brainpower within the region) and having stimulating conversations with amazing people about the subject matter and other architectural design and sustainable tourism planning considerations, something changed.
While speaking with this design professional we embarked on a conversation that naturally segued into what we do and how we approach it and it clicked!
He said to me, it’s not sustainability, it’s common sense!
Who would have thought? So simplistic a thought, so natural a reaction to a problem which needs to be solved – that’s the engineer in me!
It’s not ‘eco-centric’, or else some would consider, it’s not the look for me, it’s not ‘green’, no that’s not always the case as items nowadays must be validated, it’s not greening, because that, at times is a concept too mundane and washed-out to grab, but it simplifies the amazingly thought-out concept of sustainability.
Although I cannot take full credit for this epiphany, I can, however, bring it to light and say that I wholeheartedly agree.
If you have basic sense in the way of which the world works, if you can understand it costs less to operate a more simplistic model, if you can realize the need to ensure training of staff to reduce and reuse, if you can ensure that you track your utilities, create baselines and set goals to achieve reduction, efficiency and longevity of products, if you care about the country and often take the time to give back, if you strive to ensure your product/establishment has passion and integrity, if you’re looking to differentiate yourself, consider unique heritage traits and encompass these within your offerings, if you have access to sun, use and harness it.
All of these things and more are concepts of sustainability, but, more importantly they are traits of basic sensibility — a word and a concept which is oh-so-simple to understand and apply.
Why would you try to save money through incorporating energy efficiency? Because it makes sense.
Why would you want to ensure the best service quality for guests through staff training and efficiency? It makes sense.
Why would you want to give back to your local community to ensure the growth of future students who have a passion for the service industry and hospitality, thus securing your talented labour pool on-island? It makes sense.
Why would you want to work with the local farmers to ensure crops are grown accustom to your menu to produce a fresh, local farm-to-table experience and develop the tourism-agriculture link, lessening your dependence on foreign imports? It makes sense!
All of these examples and plenty more are sensible ideas and concepts which we have rolled into the word sustainability, packaged ever so neatly and in a word you can capture one’s attention and create an impressive amount of marketing power if you’re clever and dare I say, sensible.
So the next time you consider, “hmmm, why do I want to be sustainable, what is the concept, what do I gain?”
Think of what you will lose for having a lack of sensibility, and simply consider that the efforts you put forth in being sustainable and even going as far as to be certified to have the legal right to state and market that you are sustainable, remember…..sustainability equals the ever so easy concept of having basic sense.
However you slice it or whatever name you choose to call it, the concept is very simple. Is it an easy task? Certainly not all the time. But is it a sensible task? Undoubtedly.
Sustainability just makes plain old, sense.
K Denaye Hinds is the Director of Sustainability for OBM International. A Bermudian with years of experience in the field of engineering and sustainability throughout the islands, she is a LEED AP. Follow Denaye on Twitter @MissGreengineer or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org