What is sustainability to me? - GTEC Student Voices Blog

By Jenna from Richmond, BC
What is sustainability? Sustainability means obtaining and acquiring our own needs, by encouraging humans to interact with the environment in a way that ensures that there will be enough resources left for our future generations. I believe that this would improve the quality of our lives, while protecting our ecosystems by preserving our natural resources. There are three main principles which include, economic, environmental, and social sustainability. These three pillars are commonly referred to as profits, the planet, and our people.

Economic sustainability ensures that the social, environmental, and cultural aspects of the community would not be negatively impacted by supporting long-term economic growth. There are many ways to achieve economic sustainability, but one of the simplest yet most effective ways are reducing energy use and turning waste into resources. By reducing energy use and expanding public transit options, the levels of air pollution would greatly decrease, causing the levels of asthma and heart conditions to lower. Another option is to recycle. This would improve the efficiency regarding energy, by converting what could be considered as waste and re-manufacturing them into items to create new products that can then be recycled, generating a whole cycle of greater reliance on renewable energy sources. In order to achieve such efforts, it is important that every individual contributes to recycling.

Environmental sustainability is the act of having a responsible interaction with the environment to avoid the depletion and degradation of the natural resources in our world. Nature has a tremendous ability to care for itself, but only without the disturbance of humans. We need energy, food, and use human-made resources every day. In other words, we need more energy and materials in order to survive. Despite this, our planet can only provide so many resources before it would begin to deplete. Some examples of environmental sustainability include renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, and biomass. Things we can do that can make a big difference in our environment is to go plastic free, boycott products that endanger wildlife, pay attention to labels, and drive green. We must ensure that we do not damage the environment or overuse our resources to protect our beautiful, pristine home we call Earth.

Social sustainability is the process of promoting the wellbeing and improving the lives of people by understanding what they need such as creating decent jobs, services and goods to help meet their basic needs. Some social sustainability issues include resolving discrimination and racism in schools, workplaces, and communities to create a diverse community. Natural resource depletion, ecosystem degradation, climate change and pollution are linked to the impacts on poverty. The poor may be greatly impacted by these issues caused by the lack of sustainability. They often live in more fragile areas where they have few resources to help them adapt to the change in the environment. In order to ensure social sustainability remains an important factor in our lives, we must improve access to sustainable livelihoods and entrepreneurial opportunities, provide universal access to social services, and develop social protection systems for those who cannot support themselves.

To restate my answer as to what sustainability is to me, I believe that it means supporting long-term economic growth, having a responsible interaction with our environment, and ensuring everyone’s wellbeing is by ensuring that future generations will not be harmed from the actions we perform today. We have the ability to preserve our world and humanity by taking action to become sustainable.