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Sustainability: What Is It & Why Is It Important?

Painting of the globe on a sign with caption ‘one world’

It’s likely you’ve heard the term ‘sustainability’ crop up more and more in recent years. 

And with the climate crisis only becoming a more pressing issue by the day, that’s little surprise. 

But what is sustainability? Why should you care? And how does it relate it to you and your choices? Let’s explore… 

What is sustainability?

Put simply, sustainability is the concept of utilising available resources to meet our own needs, without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. 

Sounds simple, right? Well it’s a tad more complicated than that…

Sustainability can be better understood by being broken down into three fundamental pillars: 

  • Environmental sustainability – the environment and its eco-systems should be kept in balance by utilising natural resources at a rate in which they are given the appropriate time to replenish 
  • Economic sustainability – the guarantee thatcommunities always have access to the resource they need to survive 
  • Social sustainability – the acknowledgement and protection of basic universal human rights, in addition to personal, labour and cultural rights

More often than not, when you hear the word ‘sustainability’, it’s being used in its environmental context. But it’s easy to see how one play into the other. After all, they all follow one basic principal – act today in a way which ensures a tomorrow. 

Some everyday examples of environmental sustainability include: 

  • Recycling 
  • Bags for life
  • Organic diet / vegetarianism / veganism   

Why is sustainability important?

As we’ve laid out above, sustainability encompasses the very foundations of ethical living. So why is sustainability important? Because it acts in the interest of everybody – both today, and in the future. 

Recently, over 1 million young people around the world have urged governments to prioritise climate measures in Covid-19 recovery efforts. Why? Because they recognise the time to act is now. 

The reality of the situation is that we’ve been living in such drastic and selfish excess for so long, that it’s simply not – well, sustainable – any longer. We’ve drained the world of its natural resources, and adopted production and consumption habits that have further damaged anything remaining. Continuing at this rate would accumulate in the destruction of the environment and, ultimately, the destruction of us. 

The answer to why sustainability is important, then, becomes perfectly clear – it ensures the survival of both Mother Earth and the humanity that inhabits her. 

Why is sustainable living important?

“The climate crisis has been caused by governmental mismanagement and unethical large-scale corporations, right? It’s nothin’ to do with me…” 

Well, not exactly.

To understand why sustainable living is important, you must first understand that a blame game doesn’t help anyone. A ‘clean up your own mess’ mentality unfortunately doesn’t suffice – after all, it’s to the detriment of everyone. 

It’s key to understand too that, while the big boys rightly deserve most of the blame, that’s not to say you don’t play a part – from purchases with fast-fashion brands to a boot-full of plastic bags after every shop, none of us have lived a completely sustainable life. 

Instead, recognise that we all have a role to play, no matter how small. Sure, global companies and international governments can (and indeed should) make more of a difference than you – but that’s not to say you should’t look to make any at all.  

Sustainable living is important, then, because sustainability requires everyone to do their bit. Now we know what you’re thinking – “that sounds like a whole lotta effort”, right? 

But the truth is that even making the smallest of changes in the interest of sustainability can make a big difference in the wider picture. Sure, alone you’re not going to save the world – but the small changes you make today reduce the impact on tomorrow.  

And after all, that’s what it’s all about – acting today in a way which ensures a tomorrow. 

Ethical State are committed to making sustainable shopping easy and convenient, helping you to start making more of those little changes – so why not start today?