Sustainable Sundays: Here we go

Posted: January 2, 2011 in Sustainable Sundays
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 Opinions are formed in a process of open discussion and public debate, and where no opportunity for the forming of opinions exists, there may be moods…but no opinion.   Hannah Arendt

Welcome to the first post of the Sustainable Sundays series.  To start this series off I think it’s important to define sustainability so here we go, according to the Brundtland Commission from 1987.

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:

  • the concept of ‘needs’, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.”

To some it may seem odd that development is being discussed in a definition of sustainability; however that is only because sustainability is shorthand for ecologically sustainable economic development.  Over the years as the term sustainability has been co-opted by environmentalists we’ve lost the necessary economic portion of the definition.  To read more about how I feel about environmentalists you can read the link below:

Another concept that needs to be discussed as background on the idea of sustainability is the concept of the triple bottom line.  This concept asks us to keep in mind three aspects of life the ecological, economic and social aspects.  We need to protect our environment, to finance our society and treat people with fundamental human respect.  This idea is not just something to think about because it is right, but because it provides us with the best chance at long-term sustainability.  You can read more about this concept at the link below:

Finally, I don’t want this series to be a philosophical or political discussion of sustainability, sure there will be some of that, but what is most important is that each week I provide you with some practical advice on how to improve your own personal triple bottom line.  To start I want to link you with an article/blog from the LA Times on an experiment a reporter did on what she called living a sustainable year.  I really like the piece because of its practicality and because she openly talks not just about what worked in her little experiment, but what didn’t work as well.


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