As this word becomes further integrated into our daily vocabulary, it’s important to make sure that we are all on the same page.
What is sustainability?
I often define it as the ability to sustain something.
If that is the basis of sustainability, then some may ask: why are we interested in sustaining a system that isn’t working?
This leads to my next question….What are we trying to sustain?
Simplest answer: healthy living on planet Earth for all.
I know that’s what I am talking about when I make reference to sustainability. And although I cannot speak for others, I’m pretty sure that’s what was meant when the United Nations released the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September of 2015.
While sustainability is an important word to understand, so is the term sustainable development. This is very much applicable to that simple answer I just shared. If we want to ensure healthy living on planet Earth for all, we must consider sustainability when planning for development.
It’s strange though, something so simple and so basic has been overlooked. I say this because all around me I can see short sighted development that has not been built to last. From the disposable cups that many drink their morning coffee, to the electronics that quickly become obsolete, numerous parts of our daily lives are simply not sustainable.
Knowing that we’ve reached a tipping point when it comes to climate, the bigger question is: how much longer can this go on?
How much longer can developers move forward without keeping generations to come in mind?
Personally, I’m hoping that the built to dispose mentality comes to a screeching halt today, and we begin to see the big picture on even the smallest decisions.
The reality though, it takes time. It takes time to sink in, it takes time to apply. However, if we don’t start thinking sustainably today, we’ll run into the same problems tomorrow. History has a tendency to repeat itself if we don’t change patterns and systems.
That’s the beauty of this path that I have chosen. When I started to think about a sustainable future, I started to see things differently. I started to observe the ripple effect. The idea that one small act today, can have a big impact for years come.
If that’s the truth, then isn’t it better to take a positive approach to action?
One Tree Planted is about planting trees, and it’s also about planting seeds. Through awareness, education, and engagement, we can share our stories. Celebrate the successes and learn from the not so successful outcomes.
Although I’ve learned from many along the way, some teachers have stood out and opened my mind wider than I could have ever imagined.
Here is a quote from who I learned a great deal, and today continue to learn from through his years of dedication to sustainable development. Perhaps it will share a little insight into how we can act in our daily lives.
“We need to defend the interests of those whom we've never met and never will.”
― Jeffrey D. Sachs
How do you define sustainability?
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