How would you define sustainability?
In our workbook consideration of ‘sustainability’ was said to include; economy, society, environment. I think to the root of the word, ‘sustain’, is defined as nurturing of or prolonging of life, quality, and care. From that stand point ‘sustainability’ effects all sphere’s of life. You could consider the cost, impact, of producing a car, it’s parts has on natural resources; water, metals, etc – sustainability becomes about how do you use materials in such a way as to prolong their presence on earth. Considering manufacturing methods – are the hours and conditions laborers work in to produce the car sustainable, are they over tiered, becoming ill, stressed, diseased as a result of how they are being worked or the materials they work with (societal and economic factors play here)?
Dictionary.com defines sustainability as:
- the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed.
- Environmental Science. the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance
It defines the word ‘sustain’ as:
- to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of, as a structure.
- to bear (a burden, charge, etc.).
- to undergo, experience, or suffer (injury, loss, etc.); endure without giving way or yielding.
- to keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from giving way, asunder trial or affliction.
- to keep up or keep going, as an action or process: to sustain a conversation.
- to supply with food, drink, and other necessities of life.
- to provide for (an institution or the like) by furnishing means or funds.
In what contexts is sustainability an issue?
1. Nationally – can a country sustain itself – economically, socially, environmentally.
2. Globally – on a planet wide level – are there enough resources, the right maintained environment to continue to support life for all people. What are the costs to human quality of life of the practices of others/industry wide methods?
3. Locally/Individually – are my own lifestyle choices sustainable – financially, socially, ethically. Do I recycle? Do I invest in ‘greener’ energy? Do I invest in organic, fair-trade or more ethical forms of clothing? Do I waste food or resources/contribute unnecessarily to waste?
4. Industry/Manufacturing – I think this is a massive/complex are for sustainability to be explored. There is an issue with the way and rate at which we produce and consume all kinds of goods that is reaching a point of being unsustainable.
This area includes the Textiles/Fashion Industry, Motor Industry, Tech manufacturing, essentially any product being produced.
5. Agriculture/Farming – sustainability here involves ecological practices as well as the treatment of humans who grow, chemically treat and harvest crops.
6.Banking/Economics – is a country’s rate of economic growth sustainable – how do you maintain growth, deal with debt or deficits etc.
7. Waste Management – How do we deal with the waste produced from chemicals, food, clothing, farming, scientific processes? Issue of landfill – requires ever increasing areas of land, which could be used differently. Are there more sustainable methods, Can we use waste to produce energy, or to create consumer goods (clothes, plastics, etc)?
8. Energy Production/Consumption – where do we get our energy from – natural resources or man made? How much of this resources is still available to sustain our modern way of life? At what cost environmentally and socially do these methods come at (i.e. global warming)? is there a viable alternative power source, which can sustain our activity (wind power, solar power, water power)?
Is over consumption/ industry manufacturing part of the cause of instability/pollution – are different practices and energy uses in industry part of the answer to this issue?
9. Healthcare (UK NHS) – can we sustain care with an increasingly population and diversity of illnesses. Are we treating our healthcare professionals in a way that’s sustainable? What about energy use, manufacturing of medicines etc?