Friday 30th April 2021
Put simply, sustainability is the ability of humans and the planet to coexist indefinitely.
It means meeting our needs of today without affecting future generations and their ability to meet their needs. The increasing population growth is putting more strain on the planet. By being more sustainable we reduce the harmful impact of our activities on the environment and reduce consumption of natural resources, benefiting both the ecology of the planet and our long term existence on it.
If something is sustainable it means it can be created with no environmental damage from a renewable source and for it to exist for a long time.
An example would be solar and wind energy where they are harnessed from an infinite natural occurring resource. They create clean energy without extracting or destroying any natural resources.
Unlike fossil fuels such as coal and crude oil, these both use up non-renewable resources and destroy the environment in the process. Their extraction and use creates huge amounts of carbon dioxide that warms up the atmosphere by trapping heat. This is currently the biggest contributor to the climate crisis.
What can each of us do to be more sustainable
Being more sustainable is being more mindful of how you are living, your lifestyle and what and how much you are buying.
You can start by changing your mindset from an over consuming and throw away culture to one that really values high quality items to keep for a long time.
Changing to a green energy provider is a great first step. Choosing one that uses renewable and sustainable energy supplies, rather than one relying on fossil fuels.
Reducing your meat intake – the production of red meat is a big environmental offender due to its land use (including deforestation, both for the animals and the food to feed them) and the release of greenhouse gasses by the animals themselves.
Buying local seasonal fruit and vegetables, or grow your own. This greatly reduces the demand for food to be flown in from around the world.
If you need to buy something, e.g. clothes or furniture, you should first ask yourself if you really need it and if you do whether you could buy it second hand. It will usually be cheaper to buy second hand and you'll be helping to save the planet in the process!
Reducing or eliminating air travel – European holidays by boat or train can be fun alternatives, if you feel you do need to get out of the U.K.
Take any old or unused clothing to charity shops or clothing banks. Around 30% of unwanted clothing goes to landfill so changing this would make a big difference.
Where might sustainability go in the future
Sustainability can be encapsulated by the three main principles of economy, society, and the environment. Or profit, people and the planet. By addressing all three businesses can take steps to improve consumption and waste.
Going forward, being more sustainable should encourage companies to consider creating more recyclable products or those made from recycled materials. Therefore our buying habits/preferences would certainly influence this.
Expect to see more recycled and recyclable clothing appearing as new fabrics and technologies make this possible.
Almost half of the household waste generated in the U.K. is now recycled (although some sources may argue it is a lot less and more and more waste is being incinerated). Either way over 10 million tonnes of waste (around 20% of which is clothing) is still being buried in the ground each year and we can all do our bit to reduce this.
Clothes Recycling: Clothes Aid.