Environmental Justice And The Social Components Of Sustainability

George Bandy Jr’s fascinating journey to the Chief Sustainability Officer of Mohawk is certainly one worth hearing.

From serving in Iraq to working at the University of Texas Houston, there are a whole plethora of factors that have likely shaped the man he is today. However, Bandy Jr owes his foundation in sustainability to his grandparents, noting that the first environmentalist he met was his grandmother. Bandy Jr highlights how attitudes to waste and environmental stewardship have radically changed in a matter of a generation or two. However, he has faith that we can restore and reinforce sustainable attitudes by reframing the issue and contextualising the solutions.

Generation Z are making decisions with their pocketbooks, he explains. They are more knowledgeable about sustainability and will raise the bar on expectations from companies. Although Bandy Jr is a stout optimist and has faith that today’s youth will fight to make a difference, he makes the point that change across the board can’t happen without diverse representation in positions of power and influence. Social inclusion on a large scale is necessary if this change is going to be sufficiently accelerated. This ties in with another key theme discussed, the social components of sustainability. Despite a lot of the environmental and sustainability issues we are facing in the built environment are nothing more than unintentional consequences of good design at that point in time, the consequences remain. Further to that point, these consequences are not distributed evenly on a social level. Toxic plant sites and waste grounds almost always tend to be in low income areas. Bandy Jr says that we need to own the responsibility of what happens socially to humans as a result and not solely on the environment itself.