What Does Sustainability Mean?

There is no universally agreed definition of sustainability. In fact, there are many different viewpoints on this concept and on how it can be achieved.

The concept of sustainability differs depending on how you ask. In this day of age companies will slap on a sticker on anything they can get their hands on so it can say “sustainable” which in turn the consumer feels better in exchanging money for it thinking they are helping in making the world a more sustainable place to live in. I to am guilty of such purchases because “of course, who doesn’t to contribute to helping keep this precious earth alive!”

Definition of Sustainability :

Etymologically, the word sustainability comes from sustainable + ity. And sustainable is, for instance, a composition of sustain + able. So if we start from the beginning, to <sustain> means “give support to”, “to hold up”, “to bear” or to “keep up”.

What is Sustainability Then?

Sustainable is an adjective for something that is able to be sustained, i.e, something that is “bearable” and “capable of being continued at a certain level”. In the end, sustainability can perhaps be seen as the process(es) by which something is kept at a certain level. Therefore, It can be said that it is active action taken upon “something” so that it can last.

“However, due to the environmental and society issues, sustainability has taken up a new definition, as long as an action or process causes little, less, or no harm to the nature or humankind– under the belief (not always guaranteed ) ecosystems will keep on operating and generating the conditions that allow for the quality of life of today’s modern societies not to decrease.”

Daniel Christian Wahl, author of Designing Regenerative Cultures, defends sustainability refers to sustaining the underlying pattern of health, resilience, and adaptability that maintain this planet in a condition where life as a whole can flourish (more about regenerative cultures at the bottom of this piece). And that for this to be possible in the long term, the way modern societies organized shouldn’t be sustained, but rather re-designed using a regenerative perspective (more about the regenerative movement ahead).

*information found on youmatter.com. Thank you for the enlightenment!

Cannibals with Forks is a book written by John Elkington (author). He is also  co-founder of the sustainability consultancy firm SustainAbility and Volans (to help solve the world’s wicked problems), was one of the first people to integrate these 3 principles.

In his book he defines “sustainability” as

“the principle of ensuring that our actions today do not limit the range of economic, social, and environmental options open to future generations. “

In simple terms : view sustainability as an approach to sustaining life and supporting the planet.

So Why is This Important?

The book contiues to asnwer the question as to why this is important for us to know.

“Simply stated, this is the emerging 21st century business paradigm. Sustainable development is proposed by governments and business leaders as a solution for a wide range of problems now racing up the international agenda”…

And by a “wide range of problems” it means all of the wickedness on this earth. 

I encourage all who are interested in this information to read the book!

Side note: It’s difficult to stay away from politics when you dig deep into this. That should tell us something right. Nevertheless,  I am totally Neutral here.

Sustainability is important because we live on a planet of finite resources, but often we treat it like our resources are infinite. Also, we’ve become used to instant gratification where we want the cheapest, fastest option possible, whether we’re thinking about food, clothes, or energy. 

Meanwhile......

Sustainability is definitely more known and talked about, there’s another one that’s quickly gaining recognition and that is: regeneration. Regeneration takes sustainability even further, acknowledging modern societies’ lifestyles don’t have to be sustained for generations to come.

There are many on the upside trying to make a difference, may we support them!

 It’s important to see the value in individual change.

In the end, it will be the individuals who will create the demand for the brands to produce more and more products that lessen harm to people, planet and animals. If we want to see change we must demand change by our actions and the brands will have to adapt.

Sprinkle the Drama:

Lest, not forget and be vailed to the reality of what sustainability can truly mean for us. To do enough is never enough when there are issues that threaten humanity and life on earth as we know it.

"If we don't stand for something, then we will fall for anything...and I stand on this earth"

literally, on it and for it.

In Conclusion

Sustainability is not only about climate change. It’s about the environment, economy and society, and all of these things directly interlink with each other. 

Environmental sustainability is all about trying to conserve the earth’s resources, find renewable alternatives, prevent global warming and protect our animals and habitats.

The economy is probably not something you normally associate with sustainability, but it’s actually hugely important.One of the biggest issues with the current global economy is that there is a huge imbalance of wealth, which leads to poverty and a whole load of other repercussions for society and the environment.

Humanity is part of the same entity as the planet and natural world, rather than seeing the environment as something separate from us. This is where society as a pillar of sustainability comes into play. Discussing society as a whole means that we don’t leave people and communities behind in the fight for more sustainable living. 

For example, if an item of clothing is made with sustainable materials, but is produced using slave labour, it is not a sustainable garment.

Government, society, and businesses will do what they can with the power they are given, with the viewpoint they want to see it as and that is on them. However, it is up to each individual to take upon themselves accountability for their actions when it comes to this planet that we’ve been given.

 

How Can We Have a Part?

We can all take stand! Call the corporations, talk about it all day long, send them peaceful mail and maybe not get too far anyways..

However, we cannot underestimate the power of individual change when we believe we can. Our decisions can influence others to make more sustainable life choices too, so you might have more impact than you initially think. 

Be more intentional about the food you eat, the clothing you wear, when shopping for every day essentials and switching too renewable energy if your circumstances allow room for it.

You can go walking and cycling wherever you can, or using public transport such as buses or trains.

Hopefully, you learned a little something today and why it’s so important to think about and take action. Perhaps you’ve even been inspired to make changes to your own life or learn something new today. 

Stay real, stay hydrated, stay hungry for real wholesome food!

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