The dictionary has several meanings for the word sustainability, some of which include ideas like maintain, support, endure, and withstand. By the 1980’s the word came to be used most commonly to refer to maintaining the world we live in. The underlying idea behind sustainability is that we must act responsibly about the products we consume in order to be able to support the billions of people on this planet forever.
There are a limited amount of resources in the world that humans must extract from the very earth in order to produce houses, cars, computers, and pretty much everything else. When we use the word sustainability to mean maintain, it means to maintain it forever. This is because our actions have a lasting effect on the environment and we should protect it for our future generations.
If you want to figure out if something is sustainable you should ask yourself the question- can I do this forever?
Let’s take a look at the product plastic to understand this idea a little more. Plastic was introduced in the early 1900’s but only became a mass produced material with multiple uses after WWII. By the 1990’s we were using plastic for everything from containers for food, to lamps, toys, bottles, bags and much much more. Now if we ask the question ‘can I do this forever?’ to the case of plastic, the answer is yes. But plastic takes millions of years to decompose and so the problem lies with what happens to all this plastic when we’re done using it?
By producing all this plastic that we do not use forever, and since it takes nature a very long time to make it decompose, we end up with large amounts of plastic that is just taking up space on earth. Therefore using plastic is not sustainable. Plastic is just ONE example of unsustainable consumption.
Here are a few ways that your actions can contribute to sustainability-
Your lifestyle is your choice and you can change it. For example, when you go to the grocery store, make sure you always carry a cloth bag. This way the shopkeeper does not have to give you many plastic bags
If your watch, or a toy, or a camera is broken or not working, try getting it fixed before you buy yourself a new one
Try and be conscious about the things around you. When you consume something, see if you can re-use it later.
Needs vs wants
Before you buy something, ask yourself the question- do I NEED this or do I WANT it?
Remember sustainability begins with you. So act locally and think globally.
Can you find out some other products that are highly unsustainable?
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