>avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
In other words, any resource that is used must be renewable (and renewed) in order to be considered sustainable.
If you look to UCLA (who has a great reputation for being a thought and action leader in Sustainability and the environment,) they say:
Sustainability is the balance between the environment, equity, and economy
The UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Basically, those affected most by the lack of sustainability of current practices, are the children of today.
When it comes to business, there are many aspects of sustainability to take into consideration, such as avoiding depletion of natural resources, long term vision, improving quality of life and health of individuals and the planet.
In every day functioning, manufacturing, ordering, and delivering in a small business, sustainability can be a challenge. Let’s take a look at a peice of packaging- say a paper tube for a lip balm. If the packaging is going to compost back into the soil, does that make it sustainable? Partly, but there are so many factors to consider:
- Where were the materials sourced?
- How much energy went into making that piece of packaging and was it renewable energy?
- Was the labor used to make that packaging fairly paid?
- How far and in what materials was that packaging shipped?.
In addition, take all these considerations for that lip balm’s ingredients, production, labeling, and shipping.
You may see why sustainability is a lofty goal when all these things have to be considered. Most won’t succeed 100%, but the effort to get there still matters.
Check out UCLA’s short video about sustainability below.
Again from UCLA:
Sustainable practices support ecological, human, and economic health and vitality. Sustainability presumes that resources are finite, and should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences of the ways in which resources are used. In simplest terms, sustainability is about our children and our grandchildren, and the world we will leave them.
The UN has an SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) department which has created an agenda and blueprint for a sustainable planet by 2030. Read more here about what they are doing
If sustainability does not become a pattern that we follow in our lives and businesses, in addition to worldwide policies and practices, it’s hard to say what will happen to future generations. In my limited experience running a business, sustainability begets sustainability. In every effort I make to make and sell sustainable products, I support businesses that provide them. It’s a cycle that can lead to great things!
So what is sustainability?
It’s more than a buzzword, more than a trend. It’s what the world needs to survive and thrive.