What is Sustainability and Why Is It Important?
The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations reads, “Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground – the unborn of the future Nation.” This inspiring quote gave rise to the “seven generation” principle. When we make decisions today, we must think not only of ourselves, or even of our children. We must think how our choices impact life for those seven generations in the future. Sustainability is far more than a buzzword or fad; it is a way of thinking and living that considers the needs of the future and dedication to ensuring Earth can provide.
We live in an era of rapid growth. Our population, our lifestyles, growing economies, and the “great expectations” we have of the Earth puts a strain on the environment. We hear constantly of climate change, greenhouse gases, carbon footprints, and melting polar ice caps. It’s enough to make us want to take the next flight to Mars! But what we do not hear about as often, or as loudly, is the many steps that we are making towards sustainability.
- Green is taking over the corporate world. Being environmentally friendly is no longer the province of small and local businesses. Giants, including IBM, HP, Dell, Office Depot, Staples, Google, BestBuy, AT&T, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, Disney, Ford, and scores of others have taken giant steps forward for mankind. Innovations in power, products, services, waste reduction and disposal, carbon capping, and more have cleaned up businesses. We have far to go, but we have taken the first steps – and many are running full stride now.
- Transportation is more eco-friendly. When you hop on a plane to visit far-flung corners of the world, you are doing so in aircrafts that use less fuel and which pollute less. Our private vehicles are going farther with less, and more cities are using electric and biodiesel-fueled buses and trucks.
- Cities and counties are taking the initiative and implementing a variety of sustainability programs. From more efficient street lights to city-wide recycling to bike lanes and safer walking paths, small steps lead to big change.
You are also playing a part. Every time you use your reusable water bottle; every time you walk to work instead of driving; every time you support a “green” business or buy an environmentally sound product; every time you repair an item instead of simply buying a new one you are helping. Big change is often accomplished with small steps taken by many.