What exactly is sustainability?
I get asked this question a lot. There are a lot of buzz words out there – climate change, global warming, going green, sustainability, energy efficiency, renewable energy, farm to table, zero waste, carbon footprint, etc. So what do they all mean, how do they relate, and why are they important?
I will get into the other terms in a later post, but in my opinion, sustainability ties it all together. Basically, sustainability is living or behaving in a way that is fair to all peoples and leaves ample resources for future generations. What is generally regarded as the official definition came out of the 1987 UN Brundtland Commission:
Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
-World Commission on Environment and Development
Sustainability is often thought of in terms of sustainable development – growing and developing in a sustainable way – or a balance between economic development, social development, and environmental protection. To boil it down: Profit, People, Planet – or the 3 Ps. For more detailed information, you can visit the UN’s website on it here.
Obviously, the world needs to progress, to more forward in a positive and fruitful way. A common misconception is that living sustainably (or going green) means reverting to a cave-man lifestyle. Not true (unless you decide to go Paleo but that’s unrealated 😉 )! Living sustainably means the economy can grow and develop, but it should not happen at the cost of people [social development], or the planet [environmental protection].
When thinking about sustainability, it goes beyond just saving the environment. It is part of everyday life. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the things we buy, how we get from Point A to Point B, how we heat and power our homes and businesses, what we do with our waste, how we clean, what our cities look like, how our houses are designed and built, and so much more.
So what can we do?
It seems like this is such a HUGE issue. Heck, global leaders can’t even decide or agree on what to do. That doesn’t mean we can’t do anything though. There is a lot we can do. We are consumers, we are an active part of the global economy, and we have LOTS of choice – including where our money goes. Is that money signaling corporations that we care about people and the planet? The best first step we can take is to think about our choices. I’m here to tell you about the choices and changes I’m making and how they impact my life.