Sustainability has been described hundreds of different ways—literally.

Many definitions revolve around the concept of the importance of what is called the triple bottom line of protecting the environment, promoting economic opportunity, and ensuring social justice.

Protecting the environment

Short-term vs. long-term perspective

  • Piecemeal vs. systematic understanding of the indispensability of ecosystems for the viability of human existence
  • The concept of built-in limits to the human impact that ecosystems can sustain
  • Environmental degradation as stressor

Promoting economic opportunity

Recognizes the importance of providing secure, long-term employment without jeopardizing the health of ecosystems

  • Importance of natural capital—the economy is a subsystem of the ecosystem.
  • Concerns about growth vs. development
  • Poverty as stressor

Ensuring social justice

Cooperation and community building; well being of the individual and the larger community are interdependent

  • Social cohesion, compassion, and tolerance help make all members of the community feel their contribution to the whole is appreciated
  • An equitable distribution of resources is recognized as essential for the long-term viability of society.
  • Social inequality as stressor

And, because of the long-term impact our actions have, we also need to think intergenerationally.

What we do today impacts the future either positively or negatively. We all should consider the consequences of our actions:

How do our choices impact the environment?

Do those actions promote expanding economic opportunity and ensuring more just social conditions?

Your daily actions speak louder than words.

How you can make a difference every day

In this column we will explore more topics, people, ideas and projects related to sustainability during 2015 – 2016.

Recyclemania 2015

Just a couple of weeks to go! Recyclemania 2015 is coming to a close.

We are in Week 6 of our annual eight week RecycleMania competition. Clean out those files, clear those shelves -- be sure you are doing your part to Recycle as much as possible before the end of next week.

View archived sustainability articles

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