Revisiting Sustainability

Chialin Yu
6 min readNov 25, 2020

2020 is slowly coming to an end, and as we look back, it surely is a year packed with great awakenings. Important discussion topics have resurfaced, and all of us are challenged daily to dig deeper into our relationships with not just each other, but also our planet and the many living organisms that populate this beautiful world with us.

Scientific American kept a running list of “Record-Breaking Natural Disasters in 2020” which, when I was reading it, felt like a horror movie script — the ravaging wildfires that took over thousand acres of lands in Australia and California, the abnormal visits of Hurricans and floodings, the ~5.0 magnitude earthquakes that have popped up several times in Asia and Europe in just the last few months….

A recent screenshot from my disaster alert app

The silver lining that came with these traumas is that our society is actively working towards more awareness and better education on how important it is for us to protect the nature. Documentaries such as My Octopus Teacher and Seven Worlds, One Planet were made to ensure this “learning” is easy but impactful for people of all ages. And these efforts have paid off — according to NY Times, nature documaries are “hot again”.

What I find ironic about our society is that, with all the budgets and fundings going into the “love-your-nature education” so we can all learn to love and appreciate our planet, few efforts have been made for anyone to really practically incorporate sustainabiluty into their lifestyles. Example 1: almost all major online e-commerce brands continue to use an insane amount of non-bio-degradable shipping and packaging items. I recently ordered 2 pairs of shoes and ended up with 8 plastic bags and 4 cardboard boxes plus a ton of useless fillings. Brands seems to think consumers like the idea and the experience of extravagant unboxing and while that may be true for some, packagings that result in a whole pile of leftover packages sitting on the floor probably do more harm than good for most consumers. Example 2: I’ve come to realize many business and residential buildings (at least in NYC) employ an “all show and no substance” attitude when it comes to recycling. My previous firm used to give each employee two trash…