The Definition of Sustainability

What is Sustainability?

The terms Sustainable and Sustainability are used to describe many different approaches toward improving our way of life. Sustainability does not (and should not) have a rigid definition. Here are some views of what Sustainability can encompass…

  • Sustainability means reducing our harm on the environment and ultimately reversing the harm we have already caused.

  • Sustainability means renewing resources at a rate equal to or greater than the rate at which they are consumed.

  • Sustainability means living within the resources of the planet without damaging the environment now or in the future.

  • Sustainability means creating an economic system that provides for quality of life while renewing the environment and its resources.

  • A sustainable community is one that resembles a living system where all of the resources (human, natural, and economic) are renewed and in balance for perpetuity.

  • Sustainability is creating a world where everyone can have fulfilling lives and enjoy a rich level of well-being within the limits of what nature can provide.

  • Sustainability means taking the long-term view of how our actions effect future generations and making sure we don't deplete resources or cause pollution at rates faster than the earth is able to renew them.

  • Sustainability means living a life of dignity in harmony with nature.

  • Some of the many uses of the word sustainable include: Sustainable Business / Sustainable Development / Sustainable Agriculture / Sustainable Living / Sustainable Community.

How to Become More Sustainable

There are many ways your household, business, or organization can become more sustainable. Below are some of the environmentally and socially responsible actions that the leaders in Sustainability Store are taking. Just click on the headings to see them in action. 

  • Biodegradable - Avoid the use of any materials that are not readily biodegradable.

  • Carbon Offsets - After energy conservation and using renewable energy, if you still aren’t carbon neutral, offset your carbon.

  • Charitable Giving - Commit a significant amount of time, money, or materials to help people or the planet.

  • Community Service - Act locally by helping those in your own community.

  • Compost Waste - Establish a compost program for your workplace.

  • Cruelty-free - Ensure all animal products are from organically raised, humanely raised, free range animals and that no animal testing is used to produce any ingredients.

  • Economic Justice - Pay a living wage and find out if your suppliers do the same.

  • Employee-owned - Favor alternative ownership that supports those who are financially underrepresented.

  • Energy Conservation - Switch to energy efficient machines and appliances.

  • FSC Certified - Use forest products that are Forest Stewardship Council certified, are otherwise sustainably grown, or is reused lumber.

  • Fair Trade - Purchase Fair Trade Certified products.

  • GMO Free - Do not use genetically engineered ingredients for consumption.

  • Handcrafted - Support handmade products and suppliers to improve economic justice and encourage small-scale production.

  • Hypoallergenic - Use ingredients that ensure minimum instance of allergic reactions.

  • Land Conservation - Support reforestation and land preservation locally or through donations.

  • Local Sourcing - Hire locally and purchase local supplies and ingredients when possible

  • Low VOC - Use low VOC paints and building materials.

  • Low-waste Company - Reduce waste, reuse materials, compost waste, recycle, and buy recycled materials.

  • Low-waste Packaging - If you ship products, ensure you are using the lowest impact materials possible.

  • Non-toxic - Use, produce, or sell products that are free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fumigants, artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, heavy metals, or any other toxic, carcinogenic, or hazardous ingredients.

  • Organic Ingredients - Use all-natural or organic ingredients.

  • Recycled Content - If you produce products or packaging, use recycled materials when available.

  • Renewable Energy - Produce your own renewable energy - solar, wind - for help, visit LetsGoSolar.

  • Renewable Resources - Choose natural renewable materials over synthetic and nonrenewable.

  • Repurposed Content - Find ways to incorporate and use materials that already exist rather than buying or making new.

  • Reusable - Produce products that are reusable rather than disposable and avoid purchasing disposable materials.

  • Supplier Vetting - Source from sustainable suppliers, establish sustainability criteria for all purchases, and create a traceable supply chain.

  • Sustainability Leadership - Spread the word and help others advance their efforts in sustainability.

  • Sweatshop-free - Know your suppliers have responsible and ethical work environments.

  • Vegan/Vegetarian - Reduce the use of animal products when alternatives exist.

  • Water Conservation - Reduce water use, reuse water when possible, manage storm runoff, and offset your water use through water restoration certificates.

  • Women-owned - Favor alternative ownership that supports those who are financially underrepresented.

Steps Your Business Can Take to Become More Sustainable 

  • Include statements of environmental and social responsibility in your mission statement and organizational policies.

  • Put policies in place that favor environmental responsibility.

  • Incorporate sustainability in everything you do.

  • Develop progressive employee policies that promote health & wellbeing.

  • Participate in community support and charitable giving.

  • Use recycled products to the extent possible.

  • Use renewable energy sources when possible.

Are you a manufacturer or retailer?

  • Use raw materials that favor sustainable production.

  • Use recycled ingredients and packaging.

  • Use organic ingredients.

  • Use renewable energy sources.

  • Produce products in the most ecological manner possible.

  • Ensure products are not tested on animals.

  • Ensure products are manufactured without violating human rights.

  • Ensure products are manufactured without violating health and safety regulations.

  • Be sure to meet all environmental quality and pollution regulations.