Sustainability 101 - An Introduction
Sustainability is a word that climbed the ladder of top news in the past couple of years. Activists and aware businesses from different sectors have been using it over and over again. It has been repeated to the extent where many have started to believe that it is overused; and honestly, we cannot disagree with that. Yes. It has been used a lot, but only because it applies in each and every aspect of our lives.
What is sustainability anyway?
As popular as it may seem now, a lot of people actually still do not understand the true meaning of sustainability or why it was really introduced.
The word sustainability was only introduced in 1987 in the Brundtland's Report for the United Nations (Do you know when sustainability first appeared?, 2020), when people realized that if we don’t act soon, the rapid population increase will lead to depleting the natural resources without giving earth enough time to regenerate. The growth will soon be too high that no enough resources will be available to meet their current or future needs.
In simple words, sustainability is the ability to maintain doing something for the longest period of time.
A few months ago, the pandemic outbreak has managed to steal the spotlight from all other important topics. It has taken over the news and dramatically changed the lifestyle of millions of people all over the world in a very short period of time! This new lifestyle, that we are yet learning how to adapt to, has had huge impacts on the social, economical and environmental aspects of the world all together.
Over a 100 countries now have travel restrictions with more than 2.1 Billion people reported to be in lockdown (Mia Jankowicz, 2020)! . The lockdown forced huge economical transformations where people are now commuting less and working remotely. On the other hand, the majority of industries could not adapt with the changes and have reported multiple negative economic impacts. For instance, about 6.6M people are now jobless in the U.S. and the production rates in China have dropped by 13.5% in the first two months of the outbreak (Coronavirus: A visual guide to the economic impact, 2020). According to Bloomberg (2020), the economic recession due to the pandemic outbreak is expected to be the greatest recession recorded in all times.
The environmental impact however, was the only positive one due to the outbreak. It has reported a huge drop in carbon emissions and pollution levels. This was evident in different countries around the world. According to CNN Climate (2020) People in the northern indian city jalandhar are seeing the Himalayan mountains more than 100 miles away; Los Angeles reported the cleanest air in March 2020 since July 1998; in the EU, the daily emissions have fallen 58% compared to pre-crisis levels; and in the US the CO2 emissions are expected to drop up to 7.5% this year.
But is this what really sustainability is about? Can we sustain this drop in greenhouse gas emissions when the lockdown is over? What about social and economical sustainability? Is it really sustainable to stop everything, keep social distancing, and work remotely in exchange for salvaging the environment?
Without understanding the true definition of sustainability, its different applications and goals, sustaining this is near impossible. As individuals, we must be educated, act collectively and learn how to adapt with a sustainable lifestyle.
Note: The SEEDS Team will be hosting a Virtual BLOOM HOUR under the topic of Sustainability 101! Registration is now available through our homepage!
Activesustainability.com. 2020. Do You Know When Sustainability First Appeared?. [online] Available at: <https://www.activesustainability.com/sustainable-development/do-you-know-when-sustainability-first-appeared/> [Accessed 21 April 2020].
BBC News. 2020. Coronavirus: A Visual Guide To The Economic Impact. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51706225> [Accessed 21 April 2020].
Mia Jankowicz, B., 2020. More People Are Now In 'Lockdown' Than Were Alive During World War II. [online] ScienceAlert. Available at: <https://www.sciencealert.com/one-third-of-the-world-s-population-are-now-restricted-in-where-they-can-go> [Accessed 21 April 2020].