The term “sustainable” refers to the ability to maintain or support something over a long period of time without depleting natural resources or causing harm to the environment or society. In general, sustainable practices seek to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainability can apply to a wide range of areas, including business, agriculture, architecture, urban planning, energy production, and more. Sustainable practices may involve reducing waste and pollution, conserving natural resources, using renewable sources of energy, and promoting social equity.
Overall, sustainability is about finding ways to live and operate in a way that supports both the environment and society, while also ensuring economic viability and long-term stability.
Where Did Our Definition Of Sustainable Come From?
In 1987, the Brundtland Report, defined the idea of ecological sustainability and thus, environmental sustainability now had another string to its bow.
It was the first time that an international group had set out a vision of a sustainable future for the planet. It helped to form the sustainable development goals that form the basis of many political campaigns today.
Leading up to that point – it wasn’t that no one had ever considered caring for the planet, it’s just that they’d been looking at little bits, such as “fossil fuels”, of it rather than the whole of the global economy.
Are There Other Definitions Of Sustainable?
Yes, there are.
The dictionary says it means “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level” or, perhaps, “conserving an ecological balance by avoiding the depletion of natural resources”.
These are both perfectly adequate definitions too. The idea is to focus on the resources we use and to ensure that the things we take can be replenished.
This should lead to a more sustainable world and combat problems such as our rate of energy consumption, global warming and help develop practices that improve everything from the fashion industry to building sustainable cities to creating zero emissions.
What Does Sustainable Mean And Does It Matter?
Until fairly recently, from a historical perspective, there weren’t very many human beings on the planet.
Those that did exist lived in harmony with the natural world. They grew and ate their own food and created their clothes from natural resources which would automatically replenish themselves. Such practices did not create climate change, air pollution, or even much of a supply chain.
Sustainability was easy then – it was natural. Then the industrial revolution arrived and for the first time, human beings started to focus their efforts on processes that were not sustainable.
At first, this didn’t matter very much. Though our processes weren’t all that effective, there still weren’t very many of us to have an impact.
Then the 20th century arrived, and everything changed. It was the century of invention and human population growth.
We began to use oil and coal to create electricity on a mass scale. Billions would no longer work the soil and live in harmony with mother earth but would, instead, move into cities to further the needs of industry.
It was this action that meant for the first time, humanity’s actions were simply unsustainable, we were taking far more from the planet than it could ever hope to replenish naturally.
We Can Return To A Sustainable Planet
Humanity is not lost. Despite the dire warnings of some, there is still time to change the path we’re on. Sustainable living is the key to positive changes that bring man and nature back into balance.
We are part of a huge interdependent eco-system where our every action is a choice between a sustainable world and what we have now.
We can all contribute to this sustainable planet, opting for a reusable straw rather than a disposable one, for example, may seem small but when this happens a billion times over? Millions of tons of oil are not turned into plastics. Those plastics, in turn, are never made to be dumped into our oceans.
In our oceans fish and other creatures can thrive without plastic contamination. And so on…
Sustainable means choosing actions that make life good for us today but without taking away from the world that our children and their children will inherit.
You can make a difference, we all can and we all must if we want the human race to continue.