Green Things: What is sustainability?

Green Things sustainability graphic
Photo by Claire Keener; Graphic by Ashley L. Clark
Green Things is a weekly sustainability-focused column

UCLA defines sustainability as “the balance between the environment, equity and economy.”

Understanding the concept of sustainability and how it applies to us as individuals, community members and generational inhabitants of our ecosystem is essential to the longevity of life as we know it.

For those who are not familiar with this definition, it is important to note that “sustainability” is not just in reference to environmental science and action. 

In order to achieve true sustainability, social equity and economic principles must also be applied. 

While environmentalists like myself might prefer to prioritize the health of our ecosystems above all else, sustainability recognizes that this is not always possible within our current cultural society, governmental legislation and global economy. 

Sustainability aims to equally balance all three of these aspects in order to maximize good and minimize harm within local and international systems.

This means considering fiscal feasibility, environmental impact and social significance of any proposed change to an already established system.

Most governmental, economic and production-based systems put into place since the Industrial Revolution have generally been in the interest of fast-paced progress versus long-term utility.

Large industries, like fossil fuels, food production, infrastructure and more, were originally developed to increase convenience and accessibility. 

However, many tactics originally used to achieve this have proven to have detrimental impacts on the environment. In short, many of these systems are not sustainable.

Many resources that we depend on for our daily lives are not renewable. Fossil fuels, for example, are estimated to have 47 years until depletion.

The climate crisis is quickly approaching and extreme weather events, like flooding and fires, continue to threaten our infrastructure and agriculture.

While addressing these large-scale issues feels like a huge undertaking, there are small things that we can all do to help save the planet one step at a time.

Continuing to educate yourself about sustainability and sustainable practices should be your main takeaway.

Boise State has several opportunities for students to get involved and learn more about sustainability.

This column will be focusing on all sustainability-related organizations and opportunities on Boise State campus, as well as analyze some local environmental topics.

Stay tuned to learn more and get involved!

Green Things sustainability graphic
Photo by Claire Keener; Graphic by Ashley L. Clark | The Arbiter

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