Are You An Environmentally Responsible Designer?

Amazon Deforestation
I was recently involved in a discussion on LinkedIn regarding the specification of non locally sourced materials.

Is it just me? or does it strikes you as odd,  that some of us are specifying materials which have to be transported 1000’s miles across the globe,  just to satisfy a whim!

Ignoring the aesthetic argument of genius loci (spirit of place) for a moment, aren’t we as landscape architects, supposed to care about our environment and make responsible choices?

With oil prices again, heading towards the $100 a barrel and the kick starting of the global economy likely to drive prices to $200 within a few years, shouldn’t we setting an example?

I appreciate that container shipping is the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way of transporting any material. The problem  is, that despite this, many of us are beginning to see this transportation as unnecessary and morally wrong.

Should we use hardwoods which take 100’s of years to grow when a softwood would do the same job and be replaced in half the time. Should we be using stone brought from India just because it’s cheep and we like the colour?

There are also other hidden political, social and environment implications of imported products. Child labour
For example the child labour issues with Indian stone or the rape of environmentally sensitive landscape from non sustainable sources. The destruction of unique and valuable ecosystems in third world countries, and the pollution caused by unregulated quarrying and logging. 

More specifyers are making environmentally conscious decisions when choosing materials and this trend is only set to increase.  Leaving aside global warming, as oil prices continue to climb, we are all going need to make choices as to how that oil is best used.