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Environmental Sustainability Around the World

I have always been fascinated with learning about different cultures and practices. I
was born in the United States but lived in Korea for 11 years and returned to the U.S. for
college and have stayed here ever since. I am Korean by heritage and my family lives still
lives in Korea, which gives me the opportunity to visit my family every year in Korea. As I
am taking this course and learning about the issues in our environment and sustainability, my
mind wonders about how our society as a planet can approach and resolve ecological issues
and make our planet Earth more sustainable. I also wonder as to how other countries
perceive the various issues pertaining to environment and sustainability.
I being to approach culture and sustainability based on the country that I am most
familiar with through my personal experiences. In Seoul, Korea, the air pollution is quite
severe, where one significant cause comes from too many car drivers on such little land. In
order to alleviate the air pollution and issue of crowding, the city has implemented a system
where each car owner was assigned a day of the week where he/she was encouraged to leave
their car at home and instead use public transportation or car pool. Each car driver was given
a sticker that indicated the day of the week that the car would take a break. Unfortunately,
the issue with this system was that it was not strongly enforced, and therefore the issue was
not quite resolved. One environmental area that I believe is strongly enforced and wellpracticed in Korea is recycling. In Korea, each apartment building or unit of houses would
have a designated day of recycling specific items. For instance, in my parents apartment
building, recyclable items such as plastic, aluminum, paper, etc. are to be brought out on
Saturdays. Disposal of food waste is also strictly enforced and is expected to be brought out
three times a week. When throwing out larger items such as old furniture, owners would have
a pay a fee for its disposal. The act of using reusable bags at grocery stores has been very
well implemented in Korea. Korean grocery stores charge a small price for buying plastic
bags but rarely have to give them out because most customers bring their own reusable bags.
We live in a global world, which means information and communication can be
transferred throughout the world within instant seconds and social media can be exchanged
worldwide. I believe that while it is important that each country develops an environmentally
sustainable plan that works specifically for their culture, it is also imperative that the concept
of environmental sustainability is brought to awareness on a global level. Our society should
have an understanding that each individuals action can potentially affect our entire planet.
Because of this, it is crucial that our society should eventually develop a global sense of
ecological intelligence. As Goleman (2009) claims:
Swarm intelligence allows a larger goal to be met by having large numbers
of actors follow simple principles such a swarm intelligence would result in an
ongoing upgrade to our ecological intelligence through mindfulness of the true
consequences of what we do and buy, the resolve to change for the better, and the
spreading of what we know so others can do the sameAll of us will be pushing

toward a continuous improvement of the human impact on nature. (p. 50).


In an ideal society, people would be striving for the same goal of preserving a safe
and secure community for our future, where there is plenty of clean water, clean air, and
resources.
Indeed, tackling environmental issues and developing a plan for environmental
sustainability on a global level is extremely complicated. In a document called The Challenge
of Sustainability published by The Global Environment Facility, El-Ashry (2002) mentions
how environmental and economic inequities are closely intertwined. It was eye-opening to
realize how
Poverty pushes the poor into degraded lands and polluted slums, where economic
opportunities are minimal the burden this places on the poor are reflected in higher
health costs, lowered productivity, and can lead to political instability. A deeper
appreciation of this economic and environmental interdependence is essential to
tackling the global environment problems that cloud our future and endanger our
health, our security, our natural endowment (p. 11)
However, Mawhinney (2002), shares that, depending on the situation, there is a
possibility in reversing or improving the environmental damage. In order to successfully
reverse or improve environmental damage, such as improving worldwide ocean water quality,
various countries would have to work together and put in effort to see results.
It is interesting to see how environmental sustainability can be applied on various
levels, beginning from an individual to a small community and on a global level. I believe
that we should take advantage of our globally developed society in order to raise awareness
to environmental issues that are significant worldwide and attempt to find an approach where
the world as a whole can maintain a sustainable planet to live on.

Works Cited
Global Environment Facility. (2002). The Challenge of Sustainability. Washington, D.C.
Goleman, D. (2009). Ecological Intelligence. New York, NW: Broadway Books.
Mawhinney, M. (2002). The Environmental Arguments in Sustainable Development:
Understanding the Green Debates. Blackwell Science.

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