Ah sustainability, that word gets thrown around a lot. Sustainable development, sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy, sustainable cities....Sustainability may be the new 'green', and I'm sure we all have a vague understanding of what the word means, but personally, I think understanding the true definition is very important. Because if we're all striving for sustainability we should have a clear definition to follow.
I first heard that confusing word, sustainability, back in 2005, in a conversation with a friend at the University of Guelph. The details of that talk are long forgotten, but I still remember the feelings of embarrasment when I had to stop my friend mid-sentence and admit 'I don't know what sustainability means'.
sus·tain·a·bil·i·ty, noun: The social and environmental practices that protect and enhance the human and natural resources needed by future generations to enjoy a quality of life equal to or greater than our own .
Comes from the root sus·tain, verb: to support, to endure without giving way, to keep from giving way, to supply with food, drink, and other necessities of life, to provide for .
So, sustainability is about more than protecting natural ecosystems. When we strive for sustainability, we are striving for a future that is able to balance the needs of the environment with the needs of humanity, including financial needs, infrastructure, government, and cultural heritage. Sounds pretty fantastic right?
Thank you to Fric de Menthol for the use of of their original illustration 'Twig Couple II'. It, along with many more illustrations, prints, and postcards are available to purchase from Fric's online shop. Please check it out.
 US Environmental Protection Agency. 2010. Accessed on January 28, 20100 from:http://www.epa.gov/waste/education/quest/gloss1a.htm
 Dictionary.com. 2011. Sustain.Accessed on January 28, 2011 from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sustain