April 18, 2019

What is Sustainability?

Ask 10 different people and you may get 10 different answers. For some, sustainability means protecting our rain forests. For others, it means ensuring fair wages for workers. Your friend might say sustainability means protecting human rights; and your cousin might say it means investing in renewable energy.

The truth is, they’re all right! Sustainability means all of those things because economic prosperity, environmental protection and social justice all have meaning.

If we are to lead sustainable lives and help create a sustainable future, we must consider how our actions impact the planet, other people and their well-being. In simplest terms, sustainability is about our children and grandchildren. What world do we want to leave them? One devoid of natural resources and basic human rights? Or perhaps something better?

“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.” - Albert Einstein

Nano helps make living a sustainable lifestyle fun and rewarding.
Image by: @rotaalternativa

The Three Pillars of Sustainability

Sustainability has three main pillars - environmental, economic and social. Environmental sustainability is the ability to maintain rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation and non-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely. Economic sustainability is our ability to support a defined level of economic production and ensure contributors to this production are compensated fairly. Finally, social sustainability is the ability of a social system, like a government, to function at a defined level of social well being.

Throughout your Nano experience, you’ll come across different ways to positively impact all 3 pillars. We think it’s important to point out that sustainability is not just about protecting our environment. Now, in 2019, there are still many marginalized groups that need our help. There are thousands upon thousands of workers who are not compensated fairly. The Nano community aims to solve the issues affecting us today and is working together to help create a sustainable future. You can join us by downloading Nano for free on iPhone and Android (coming soon)

"Sustainability is about our children and grandchildren"
Image by: @daiga_ellaby

Other Definitions

UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

UCLA Sustainability Committee: “The physical development and institutional operating practices that meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, particularly with regard to use and waste of natural resources. Sustainable practices support ecological, human, and economic health and vitality. Sustainability presumes that resources are finite, and should be used conservatively and wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences of the ways in which resources are used.”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.”

Investopedia: “Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental and social—also known informally as profits, planet, and people.”

Dictionary.com: “the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.”

Relevant SDGs

The Sustainable Development Goals are targets set by the United Nations. These goals and targets serve as the framework for the actions taken by the Nano community. You can learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals here.

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