Environmental Sustainability

The basic definition sounds something like this...

"The ability to maintain rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation, and non-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely." (1)

This definition is good but it focuses only on goals benefiting people and is limiting the importance of the ecosystem independently, even when it’s not providing something for humans. We should be mindful as to how our living expenses impacts wildlife, vegetation, and other creatures.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.
— Mahatma Gandhi

The way we create positive or negative opinions about subjects usually occurs through experience. In many situations people who form a positive relationship with the environment, whether it’s from culture, religion, childhood memories, adult adventures, emotional or spiritual connection, etc. usually feels a stronger urge to act responsibly for the environment than someone who has either negative reminisces or none at all. Providing people with positive experiences in nature is important to build a relationship that is supported by respect and as opposed to fear. This Earth has sustained for arguably six to seven million years but within the past 500 years of modern industrialization along with human mindset we have increased greenhouse gases making the Earth significantly warmer(2), created 5 enormous plastic trash islands with the largest approximately weighing 80,000 tons and measuring the size of 1.6 million kilometers(3), ripped a hole in the ozone layer(4), caused the extinction of at least 1,000 species(5), threatened over 55% of the oceans reefs by overfishing and destructive practices(6), and anything else you would like to add.

If we think with consideration beyond ourselves and intelligently plan our upcoming actions we can reverse the stress and ecological damage we created. Take the ozone layer for example, even though it was our actions that created the issue, it was our actions that closed it back up(4).

Big Question: What do we do to be environmentally sustainable?

It’s a type of mindset that will lead to a lasting change. When we want to acknowledge what we’ve done to impact this Earth and want to do something about it, we will fix any problem we made or could be in the process of making. It’s getting to that point of everybody wanting to make a difference, now that’s the challenge.

It’s also realizing that every location is different by nature and planning with a larger scope of consideration to better match each area could result in improved well-being for the people and environment. Incorporating more Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) or Indigenous Knowledge into city and development planning would better life quality for humans and neighboring ecosystems.

One day we could have a society where there is a balance between city and country, resources and resource extraction, human and wildlife. We could install creative designs into cities to maximize space, energy, and resources. There could be multiple types of alternative energy technologies to capture solar, wind, kinetic, biofuel, hydropower, geothermal, and any other discovery in locations that maximizes each return on investment for clean energy usage. Upgrade public transit systems, cross walks and bike lanes, and automobile technology to minimize our transit greenhouse gas contribution. Use safe technologies to clean pollution in areas humans have difficulty reaching like the ocean. Implement composting and greater detailed recycling programs, greatly reduce plastic consumption and create multiple packaging alternatives, discover bacterias that safety eat plastic molecules while containing the process to ensure there’s no negative consequences to wildlife, improve landfill technology to break down trash at a faster rate while capturing the released energy during that process, and broadly decrease our food waste nationwide. Transform current agriculture processes to be less chemically operated and depend more on natural nutrient replenishment and pesticide deterrents bettering the health of our environment and selves. There are many things we could do to keep our current way of living while also caring about the health of the environment and ultimately ourselves as well.

It’s especially important for Americans to understand the value of the environment because of how large our ecological footprint is and how it affects the rest of the world. Our society functions through capitalism and as a result we produce large amounts of waste and pollution that greatly impacts other countries, most of which are less developed, negatively.

If you’re curious about the size of every country’s ecological footprint, click the button below to learn more.

additional Topics Include:

  • Ecosystem Health

  • biodiversity decline

  • species extinction

  • universal pollution

  • wildlife protection

  • limits to growth

  • Marine Life health

  • Large-Scale Industrial Agriculture

  • Food Justice

  • Climate Justice

  • Energy usage

  • Waste management

  • biomimicry