So, what is sustainability?

Written by: Erin Hanrahan

The word sustainability is being used more frequently in recent years and is being applied to many different areas. But what exactly does it mean? A quick Google search brings up a number of different definitions depending on what area of focus you are looking at. I’ll be the first to admit that even I struggle with remembering what sustainability is. Each individual person may also have a definition of what they identify sustainability to be, which adds to the confusing nature of the term.

For me, the simplest explanation of what sustainability means is living in the present in such a way that our needs are met and the needs of the future will also be met.  This includes everything from land use, natural resources, sustainable investments, etc. It means thinking about how the actions of the current state will affect the future state of our world. Sustainability is about taking a step back, looking at the whole picture and understanding how certain actions may compromise the needs of future generations if continued.

This can seem like a daunting task for those of us living in the present to have to make a life for ourselves, but also have to think 20 or 30 years into the future and predict what impacts our  actions will have. However, small changes are the way to go when it comes to living a sustainable and happy life. Replacing your disposable makeup wipes for reusable cloth ones or turning off the air conditioner and opening the windows are easy and practical first steps. It doesn’t have to be the master solution right away but every small step that each person takes, will result in the greater good for the current and future residents of planet earth.

“It is our collective and individual responsibility … to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live.”- Dalai Lama

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