Hues of Green: Exploring Sustainability’s Mosaic of Meaning

What does sustainability actually mean? Pause and think about it. It’s a word with as many meanings as people it relies upon to bring it into action. It’s a word we’ve all heard and with the conclusion of the recent COP28, it’s everywhere. Most of us think that to save the planet we need to do something big, extraordinary and revolutionise action! That’s great, but it often means that we don’t do much until that idea comes along. If we stop to consider what sustainability means, we can break it down into smaller steps that bring a hope-filled future closer within reach. By exploring the multi-faceted meanings of the world’s most pressing issue, unravel an overwhelming topic to understand what shaping a truly sustainable future means.

Individual sustainability and ethical sustainability is all about you, your actions, and your choices. It lies in whether you choose to carry your own reusable bottle, or buy a single use plastic one. It depends on whether you buy fast fashion or promote ethical consumerism. It involves making choices and taking actions that foster the well-being of the planet, society, and you, for present and future generations. If you think about one small habit you can change that will contribute to a healthier planet and implement the change, that’s being a sustainable individual. When you think about the cumulative positive or negative impact of your actions, and choose positive, that’s individual sustainability. This perspective emphasizes ethical consumerism, responsible consumption, and environmentally conscious behaviour, be it supporting your local farmer’s market, carpooling to work, or even composting! Individual sustainability is about living life in a holistic way, guided by your moral and ethical compass to make choices beneficial for you, and the planet.

Social sustainability is heavily reliant upon the strong correlation of social systems and their economic and environmental repercussions. Social sustainability emphasises building long-term well-being of communities and societies, by working towards SDGs 5, 10, 16. SDG 5 discusses gender equality, SDG 10 on reduced inequalities, and SDG 16 promotes peace, justice, and strong institutions. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of seventeen global goals created to address the world’s economic, social, and environmental challenges to result in a more sustainable and equitable global society by 2030. Moreover, social sustainability promotes social equity, justice, and development of processes and structures that meet the needs of current societies but also enable future generations to maintain healthy communities. It encourages individuals to participate in social, cultural, and political processes, in turn mitigating racism, discrimination, and poverty, while promoting access to education, healthcare, housing, and fundamental human rights. In an economic dimension, social sustainability manages the impacts of businesses on communities, and these impacts are managed by organisations such as Fairtrade, and the Forest Stewardship Council. When you practice social sustainability, you are empowering the creation of inclusive communities where all individuals have equal opportunities to thrive, and contributing towards creating a better world where everyone can exist freely in a healthy, sustainable, fair, and equal way.

Economic sustainability is an economic system’s ability to foster economic development of a company or nation to support long-term prosperity. It entails sustainable resource management (both natural and human) while promoting economic growth, social equity, and environmental stewardship. Economic sustainability is striking the right balance between economic growth and gaining profits, while mitigating the negative environmental, social, and cultural aspects of its activities. One of the primary pillars of economic sustainability is social sustainability, due to a strong focus on social equity. Economic sustainability encompasses social equity, global cooperation, environmental stewardship, resource efficiency, ethical business practices, and long-term vision. It focuses on inclusive growth and is a holistic perspective that enables us to recognise the interconnectedness of economic, social, and environmental factors for long-term well-being.

The most well-known type of sustainability is environmental. It is arguably the most important component in long-term sustainability efforts that is composed of individual, ethical, social, and economic sustainability. Environmental sustainability is the ability to preserve the Earth’s natural ecological balance and use natural resources wisely, supporting the well-being of present and future generations. It encompasses decision-making and actions that are in the best interests of the natural world, and balancing that with society’s best interests. It refers to protecting global ecosystems, biodiversity, and supporting ecological resilience so that future generations can see what a tiger looks like, not just in a storybook. Essentially, environmental sustainability is creating the equilibrium between a consumerist human society and natural world. It focuses on creating a better tomorrow for future generations.

The multi-faceted meanings of such a broad topic help us understand what a truly sustainable future means, and helps us forge a sustainable path forward. The aspects of individual, ethical, social, economic, and environmental sustainability all fall under the umbrella of sustainability. A word that seems so daunting is simplified when we pause to consider the essence of what it means. After all, we need to be the ones to take action, and only when we understand something fully can we work towards a sustainable future for us all. In the words of Sir David Attenborough, “Nature is our biggest ally and greatest inspiration.”

Aanvi Joshi is a Grade 10 student, a keen environmentalist, and an author ready to offer a youth perspective on the nuances and multi-faceted realm of sustainability. She has been writing since childhood, and through growing up watching Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries, she grew to love writing about sustainability. Aanvi’s goal is to spread hope for a more sustainable future to everyone and help bring it within reach. Through her writing on sustainability, Aanvi hopes to inspire everyone to take small steps towards a better world, and that is why she writes: to make the world a better place.

28 Comments

  1. Well expressed Aanvi.
    We can all do our part to become good custodians of the earth and each other.
    It all starts with us.
    Together our efforts multiply to produce significant impact for improvement of all life on this planet.

    1. Absolutely, together we can make a significant impact! 😊🌍

  2. Sustainability is crucial for our future. Let’s focus on everyday actions that make a difference. Keep up the good work promoting sustainability. ❤️

    1. Thank you! Your support fuels our commitment to sustainability! 😊🌿

  3. Wow, very impressive!

    1. Thank you for your kind words! 😊

  4. 👏👏👏

    1. Thank you for your applause! 😊👏

  5. Its a one of a kind game show that shows sustainability, they put in action, step by step we see what they do and the progress to it. So lets join every week to put our share in saving our mother earth

    1. Thrilled to have you join us in this sustainable journey! 😊🌍

  6. Your commitment to sustainability is commendable. Embracing small changes in our daily lives can collectively lead to a significant positive impact on our planet. Keep up the great work! 👏

    1. Thank you! Your support fuels our commitment to sustainability! 😊🌿

  7. Impressive!

    1. We’re glad you think so! 😊

  8. “I wish you all the best for new projects of Oasis Park!”

    1. Thank you for your well wishes! 😊🌿

  9. Hats off to aanvi joshi :) it’s our duty to protect the nature for the future gen ! Go green save earth

    1. Grateful for your recognition and shared commitment to nature! 😊🌿

  10. Indeed this the time for collective efforts to let the planet earth breath and remain green to benefit it’s dwellers. Let’s change our habits and thoughts and contribute as much as we can to save our earth for today and tomorrow

    1. Absolutely, together we can make a big difference! 🌎💚

  11. interesting!

    1. Glad you found it engaging! 😃

  12. Omillionaire is best featured way and I have already one time winner in Omillionaire draw,

    1. Congratulations on your win! We’re thrilled to have you with us! 🎉😊

  13. Oasis Park has taken a great initiative!

    1. We’re thrilled you think so! Thank you! 🌟😊

  14. To turn the word sustainability to reality it needs a proper planned approach and this initiative to save the planet I have that confidence by seeing these steps that the road to sustainability is not that far.

  15. Your faith in our initiative at Oasis Park gives us the motivation to continue our journey towards sustainability. 🌍💚😊

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