Why Is Sustainability Important?
Why is sustainability important?
If you’re here you’re exploring your impact on the planet, which is great. Understanding sustainability and its importance is fundamental to our future.
Well im sure you’ve heard the importance of sustainability being reiterated time and time again but that doesn’t make it any easier to understand such a complex idea.
That’s why in this post we’re going to break it down, we’ll cover:
- What sustainability is
- The 3 pillars of sustainability
- Issues with sustainability
- Sustainability examples
- How to live sustainably
So you can go forth armed with the facts and be ready to tackle sustainability head on!
What is sustainability?
Wikipedia defines sustainability as the ability to exist constantly.
What does that mean?
Well, existing constantly in this context refers to us existing in balance in nature. In other words being able to co-exist with nature without over exploitation of resources such that future generations can continue to prosper.
Sounds simple enough, but achieving sustainability is no easy task! That’s why sustainability is further broken down into 3 pillars...
3 pillars of sustainability
Achieving sustainability is achieving a balance, a balance between the 3 pillars of sustainability:
Environmental sustainability means living within the means of our natural resources. To achieve environmental sustainability we must be able to consume natural resources at a sustainable rate, meaning they are replenished at an equal rate to the rate we are using them.
Economic sustainability is sustainability applied to large businesses and countries. Economic sustainability requires that businesses and countries operate sustainability to consistently produce an operational profit which will in turn sustain it’s activities long term.
Achieving social sustainability is the ability of society to achieve good social well being, this ensures the society can be maintained in the long term.
Only through balancing the 3 forms of sustainability above can we achieve sustainability long term.
But, why is sustainability so important?
To understand the importance of sustainability we must understand the problems that arise from living unsustainably, let’s unpack some of the biggest sustainability issues we face today:
Climate change is undoubtedly linked with unsustainability. Through unsustainable use of the earth’s resources, specifically energy resources we are emitting greenhouse gases.
Whilst not an issue at a small scale, we are emitting greenhouse gases at a rate that exceeds how the earth can capture those greenhouse gases.
As a result we are seeing and feeling the effects of climate change associated with the imbalance of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
Other organisms underpin our survival and well being and the survival of each other. Human activities are drastically reducing biodiversity through:
- Destruction, degradation and fragmentation of habitats
- Reduction of individual survival and reproductive rates through exploitation, pollution, and introduction of alien species.
Without a high degree of biodiversity the earth will cease to support human life.
Feeding the planet’s growing population is difficult, whilst we are producing plenty of food our agriculture practices are leading to overexploitation of natural resources and our habits are leading to food waste.
If we are to sustain food production for future generations we must rethink how we grow, what we grow and what we do with it.
Protecting the oceans
Whilst linked directly to biodiversity, the oceans are also feeling the effects of pollution, literring overfishing and acidification (caused by global warming).
The oceans have a profound effect on life across the planet, ensuring we protect the oceans is essential to preserve our future.
Hopefully those examples explain just how important sustainability is for our future. Without living sustainably we can expect life as we know it to change completely!
Now that we’ve identified what sustainability is and why it’s important, let’s take a look at some examples of sustainable development in practice.
Urban green space
Urban green spaces aren’t just about adding a token touch of nature to cities, they bring a host of enviromental benefits including:
- Improving air quality by filtering air pollution
- Protecting water quality by reducing nitrates leaching from the soil into the water supply.
- Reducing soil erosion - plants and trees can help keep soil in place and reduce sediment run off.
- Providing a safe haven for animals in the city
Unlike traditional energy production which makes use of a finite resource (fossil fuels), renewable energy uses sources which are in abundance, including:
- Solar energy
- Wind energy
- Geothermal energy
Crop rotation is the practice of planting a variety of different crops over the same land over successive season.
By rotating crops you avoid the problems of soil erosion, depleting soil’s nutrients and issues with pest and disease associated with producing a fixed crop over and over.
All of those are great, but you’re probably wondering what you can do as an individual to live more sustainably.
Let’s find out how..
How to live sustainably
As we’ve discussed, sustainability is about living in harmony with nature. Living sustainably is all about minimising your impact on the planet and indeed benefiting the planet when you can!
Here’s 10 tips for living more sustainably:
- Switch to renewable sources of energy
- Use zero waste products instead of single-use items
- Reduce your food waste
- Save water
- Drive less
- Volunteer and donate to sustainable causes
There we have it, in this post we covered:
- What sustainability is
- Why it’s important
- What you can do to live more sustainably
Hopefully you now feel armed to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Let us know your favourite tip for living more sustainably by commenting down below.
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