The Flight of the Hummingbird


This afternoon we watched a few excerpts from a film called The Clean Bin Project ( It was horribly depressing - which is why I'll be watching the rest of it soon. Our waste production is out of control but it feels so impossible to rectify, we're spiraling out of control and killing everything (including ourselves, eventually). From a cosmic perspective, the human race has been around for a fraction of a second. And in that fraction of a second, we have learned to create, to buy, to sell, and to throw away. We have gone from apes to hunter-gatherers to mom-and-pop store owners to factory workers to corporations making billions of kilograms of waste every day. We used to rely on the Earth for life, and now we destroy the Earth to better our lives. We as designers really do have a huge responsibility on our shoulders to design with an environmental conscience. I'm just one person, can I really make a difference? Yes. I often think about a Haida story when people say "one person can't make a difference." The story takes place in a huge forest. Lightning strikes and fire engulfs the woods. All of the animals and birds flee to safe ground and watch with dismay as their forest burns, crying because there's nothing they can do. All but one - the little hummingbird. He frantically flies to a nearby lake, fills his beak with a single drop of water, and then hurries back to the flames and drops the water. He does this over and over, but the fire burns bright. The rest of the animals stare at him, many scorning him saying "What are you doing? You can't put out that fire. You are too small." The hummingbird keeps on depositing drop after drop and says to them "I'm doing what I can."