It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot these days.
But how much does it really matter?
Here’s my confession: for a long time I was unclear on the importance of sustainability. One day, I refreshed my memory by looking up some definitions of the word. Sustainability: it means meeting our present needs without messing up the future generations’ chances of being able to meet their needs. Suddenly, what had seemed a bit like an ambiguous umbrella term – and frankly, sometimes a savvy marketing ploy – started to take on real meaning and heartfelt importance.
Experts sort sustainability goals into three main pillars: a holy trinity of earth love, if you like. They say that in order to be truly responsible for this planet and its future, we need to account for society, the economy, and environmental concerns.
Here’s a brief look at what that means.
The earth’s ecology, all the wonderful organisms and their finely-tuned systems for survival that make up our environment, are kept in balance. We only use natural resources at a rate that enables them to replenish themselves.
Communities of people around the globe have access to all the resources they need for daily life. Everyone can maintain their independence and enjoy a secure livelihood.
Everyone’s basic needs are met and are respected by universal human rights. Leaders are just and protect their communities from persecution and discrimination.
It sounds a bit like paradise. A little too good to be true. But believe it or not, whether we ever actually entirely realize these ideals isn’t essential. It’s not even the goal. The goal is that we try – that we each do our part to make our little corner on the earth a better place.
It starts with caring. For future generations, and the lives we’ll hand on to them; for the magnificent beauty of this earth, that we each have the power to heal, or destroy.
Here are some basic things that you can do today to make a difference.
Encourage your kids to enjoy daily nature play: that’s where their respect for nature starts.
Recycle, compost and reuse wherever possible.
Use less fuel by walking, taking the bus or train, or carpooling.
Use your voice to stand up for those who are less privileged, and who are persecuted or discriminated against.
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.