Welcome to the Environment: It is easy being green, a practical guide to sustainability and sustainable practices. In 2020, we will be exploring a 12-part blog series that will cover information designed to help you save money, reduce your carbon footprint and be a great steward of the planet.
Here we’ll discuss the meaning of sustainability as well as sustainable principles and practices.
A practical guide to sustainability and sustainable practices
Let’s begin with the definition commonly used, by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, so we’re all on the same page. The United Nations Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
As a term, sustainability is defined in so many ways, and surprisingly, it isn’t always as well understood as you might think. When interfacing with folks, I always make sure to have basic contextualized or understood examples, to demonstrate and make sustainability more tangible and practical.
A go-to example is a discussion about a simple watermelon. Yes, it’ a delicious fruit, and my personal favorite. However, it’s also a great teaching tool. If you ask by show of hands, “who would sit and eat the fruit in its entirety,” and a few respond with, “yes!” You can point out how their behavior isn’t sustainable because no one else was considered in the equation. What makes this fruit sustainable? Well, it’s the components that all converge.
Clean air, bright sunlight, potable water, and fertile soil. The final lesson in the discussion is about personal responsibility: to take only what is needed, protect resources (our water, soil, air) and care for not only the seeds to grow more watermelon, but also to lead by example to demonstrate how protecting our resources, which in turn shows how we care for each other, all wildlife and our planet.
As a member of the Office of Sustainability, it’s safe to say the industry of environmental work is one filled with complex jargon used to address challenging issues. Our goal in the office is to share what we know in a way that includes content that everyone can understand, use and implement at home, school, work, and in the community.
Be sure to check out next month's topic in the Environment blog, 12-part series, Zapped: Energy Efficiency and Conservation.