What Is Sustainability?

The term “sustainable” has been thrown around a lot lately. The reason why, being that we are struggling to maintain a balanced ecosystem with our high standards of living and fast growing population. But what does sustainability really mean? It is the beginning and end of everything.

The term “sustainable” has been thrown around a lot lately. The reason why, being that we are struggling to maintain a balanced ecosystem with our high standards of living and fast growing population. But what does sustainability really mean? It is the beginning and end of everything. 

In order for a species, human and non-human, to survive, it needs to maintain an ecological balance. We extract, burn and cut down our natural resources every single day. Ever read the children’s book ‘The Giving Tree’? The forests, the ocean, the wind, the minerals… we are meant to utilise, harness and explore natures gifts. We, however, have gone beyond our rights as a species of the Earth. We have abused, stripped and drained these resources at a faster rate than the Earth can regenerate. This is the definition of unstable. 

Right now we are not living as if we planned to stay. We are draining the ocean of its fish at a shocking rate due to the technology we now have to find and catch every last fish on the planet. We are emptying the forests of wildlife with our palm oil plantations and climate induced wildfires. We are not living in harmony with the living, breathing organism we call home.

It’s difficult to bounce between optimism and drained faith. But change will not come from passivity, just like it will not come from blissful ignorance and denial. It is important for us to understand our part in this intricate system, and the importance for sustainability.

Learning how to do your part, and knowing that your part in all of this is just as substantial as ever, is the key to bettering the circumstances, the existential crisis that we are facing today.

Toasting your bread in the morning, using your hairdryer for 30 minutes, charging your phone every night… all these things take electrical energy. Where does the energy come from? It comes from the earth. Coal, natural gas, and oil all buried deep under layers of the earth. These are the non renewable energy sources responsible for lighting our homes and are even what makes our cars run. The problem is this: these natural resources do not replenish, the extraction methods are brutal to our ecosystems and the process of burning these fossil fuels to create energy emits large amounts of Carbon Dioxide and harmful air pollutants. Ensuring there is no waste of energy, by turning off your lights, unplugging appliances and using less hot water is of absolute significance in our journey towards a healthy planet.

Harmony in harnessing our resources is the goal moving forward. We have key renewable sources of energy at our disposal. The sun, the wind and the tides are all clean and available to us. It is unavoidable for us as a society not to consume energy and have an impact on our environment. We are 7 billion people on this one rock, trying to contribute to society, have families and engage with our environment. Applying logic and intelligence above greed, planet above profit, and encouraging a nature inclusive way of thinking is what we need to strive for, and the only way we will survive here.