Sustainability is a word that you will be hearing about a lot at the moment. As we move into the future, making our planet sustainable will be vital to the survival of our species, animals, and the earth we share.
But what is sustainability, and why is sustainability important? Sustainability provides people with what they need to have a good quality of life while keeping the ecology of our planet in balance. Without sustainability, we risk depleting stores of precious resources. We irreversibly damage ecosystems, endanger animal species, create social inequalities and we risk destroying our planet.
In this article, we will give you a clearer idea of what sustainability actually is. We’ll discuss why it’s fundamental to the future of our planet and what sustainable business may look like.
What is Sustainability?
The definition of sustainability, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is:
“The property of being environmentally sustainable; the degree to which a process or enterprise can be maintained or continued while avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources “
Sustainability is about producing what we need while keeping the ecology in balance. If we take too much from nature and fail to restore, we risk becoming unsustainable.
Why is Sustainability Important?
Low sustainability can lead to various ecological disasters. This can include species extinction, social inequalities and irreversible damage to our ecosystems. If we take too much from nature without restoring and protecting it, we risk substantial environmental implications.
Our modern world is driven by consumerism and perpetual economic growth. This has led to nature being used and exploited for its resources. We’re failing as a planet to restore what we have taken. We’re failing to protect our current ecosystems and wildlife.
It is estimated that we currently use 40% more resources every year than what we put back. Eventually, this will result in precious resources, becoming depleted and essential ecosystems dying.
We depend on our environment for survival and must solve our sustainability issues. We have to find a way to work in harmony with our planet. If we don’t we will face some serious environmental problems in the future.
The depletion of our natural resources is influenced by our societies. If we want to improve sustainability, we must change our systems. We must continue to grow and improve the lives of humans. But we must do it with nature’s interests at the heart of every decision we make.
The factors we need to consider when improving sustainability must include:
- Resources exploitation
- Our manufacturing processes and operations
- The direction of our investments
- Investment in and use of technological developments
- How we distribute wealth
- Changes in our institutional
We must consider the impact of our choices on ecosystems. We need to find ways to continue to improve people’s quality of life. But at the same time protect and strengthen our ecosystems.
Sustainability Vs. Sustainable Development
When we discuss sustainability, most often we’re talking about the present. Sustainable development looks at how we can become sustainable long-term.
Sustainable development considers how humans can meet their own needs. But, without compromising the future of the environment. It also aims to rethink our societal progress and how we can improve the quality of life here on earth.
This is why sustainability initiatives focus on social issues. Such as:
- Ending poverty
- Improving education
- Ensuring good health
- Giving access to proper medical care
Many of our environmental issues can be solved by improving our societies. For example, raising healthy children. Making sure they are well educated. Giving them the opportunity to influence change is vital to the future of our species and our planet.
If we fail our younger and new generations, we all suffer the consequences.
The Three Pillars of Sustainability
This issue with sustainable development is clarity. How do we know what to focus on? Where should we start and what do we need to focus on?
The World Summit on Social Development identified these three core areas for sustainable development. They’re known as the three pillars of sustainability.
Economic development involves encouraging businesses to work towards more sustainable practices. Governments could provide companies with incentives for following sustainability guidelines.
This area also tries to encourage each individual to take more responsibility for their own impact on the planet. While yes, one person can’t make much of a difference, millions or even billions united in change can have a substantial positive impact.
Some personal sustainability examples include:
- Eating a plant-based diet
- Avoiding plastic
- Using public transport more
- Flying less
All of this is to be achieved without business or people compromising on their quality of life. It may involve changing the way a company runs its business or the way a person lives their life. But, it shouldn’t make their situation any worse.
At the forefront of this pillar is the need to raise awareness and increase action over public health. This can include diet, exposure to pollution, and access to medical care, to name a few.
Social development is complex and multi-faceted. Social sustainability examples typically include sustainable housing and a good education.
Sustainable housing is vitally important in the fight against our environmental issues. Having the opportunity to own a house made from low-impact materials powered by renewable energy is just the start.
Finally, education is vital to sustainable development. People, especially children, need to learn more about sustainability. They need to be aware of sustainability issues. They will need to know how to protect their environment. But also how to deal with the impending environmental problems they will face.
This pillar is all about how we can better study the environment to give the planet more protection. Studies should include testing air quality, water eutrophication, observing the degeneration of soils and assessing the sustainability of our resources.
This may be the most critical factor for sustainable development. Without knowing how to adequately protect our planet, we can’t create the systems, legislation, and investment needed to achieve our goals.
Environmental protection will also help to recognise and develop new technologies that can further help protect our ecosystems, such as biotechnology. We also need to be aware of how other technology being developed could further damage the environment.
Sustainability in Business
Image from Pexels
Within business, there are a few sustainability trends already becoming apparent. Sustainability in business has never been more critical. Here are just a few of those trends and sustainability projects.
The time is running out, and our carbon emission targets are looming ever closer. On one hand, countries like China are set to reach their targets as much as 9 years early, on the other, countries like the UK are set to miss their climate goals completely.
Businesses more than ever need to find ways to mitigate their carbon footprint. Five particular industries need to focus on mitigation more than most. This includes energy, transportation, agriculture, construction and forestry.
To help these industries mitigate their carbon footprint, we will need government support. Governments can encourage business to transition to a lower-carbon economic model. This could include:
- A carbon tax
- Substantial investment in low carbon technologies (solar and wind)
- Regulation that seeks to phase out high-carbon industries (oil and gas)
Circular solutions involve keeping precious resources in use for longer. Consumer goods companies will start to design new products that use fewer materials. They can take advantage of recycled materials, upcycling innovation and low-energy production methods.
Governments and businesses will start to encourage buying recycled goods. This way, materials can continue to circulate through the economy. There will be less need to extract new resources.
Currently, the world is around 8% circular in its economy. This will need to drastically scale up to have a positive effect on the climate crisis. A significant part of a circular economy is trying to educate people on why they don’t need to always buy new things.
Soon we will have over 8.5 billion people living on our planet as early as 2030. As the number of middle-class people grows in developing nations, the demand for consumer goods will naturally grow with it.
This means more people who want more stuff quickly and inexpensively. Younger generations in the west are understandably worried about their future security. This has led to a generation that “votes with their money”.
By choosing to buy the most sustainable and ethical goods, they’re trying to force companies into more ethical practices and it’s working. Some of the biggest consumer brands on the planet are now becoming more ethical. They are rethinking their supply chain, materials, and marketing. All this is helping to appease the new rise of “eco-consumers”.
While this may be true, we recognize that those living in developing or under-developed nations may not have this luxury. We can only hope that more brands try to mitigate against pressing environmental issues in a bid to connect to their younger consumers.
Together, business and consumers can form new relationships based on trust and transparency. Together they can change the way our consumption impacts our planet and create a brighter future.
The action we take now as a planet will be integral to the future of our species, our environment and our wildlife. Sustainability needs to be at the heart of everything we do from what kids learn in school to how we operate our businesses.
Thankfully, we’re making positive strides towards sustainable development. All we need to do now is speed that process up. As individuals, we can challenge our leaders over environmental policy. We can make changes to our own lives too, that help to mitigate our personal impact on the planet.
Here at Dolma Vegan Fragrances, we’re proud to be part of a sustainable future. We’re making huge efforts to cut our impact on the planet. We know we’re not perfect and that we have a long way to go. But we have a sustainable development plan that we’re determined to realise in the near future. Currently, we are 90% plastic-free and busy with the development of our 100% recyclable discovery boxes. We are also developing smaller delivery boxes so that we can minimize the amount of box per order. We are committed to continuous improvement.