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Is Sustainability A Value?

Posted on 1/9/2023

in Sustainable Practices

Sustainability Shown in the middle of a venn diagram between people, planet and profit

Is Sustainability A Value?

Sustainability is a popular word that is often used in discussions about the environment, the economy, and social responsibility. While the definition of sustainability is “harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged” what does sustainability really mean to an individual or organization? Is sustainability a value that we should strive for in our personal and professional lives, or is it just a trendy concept that is used to make people feel good about their actions?

What Is Sustainability?

At its core, sustainability is the ability to maintain or preserve something over time. When applied to the environment, this means using resources in a way that does not deplete or degrade them, so that resources can be used by future generations. Sustainability is often linked to the principles of environmentalism, which calls for the protection and preservation of natural resources and ecosystems.  

Sustainability & The Economy

But sustainability is not just about the environment. It also encompasses economic and social factors, such as the ability to create jobs and improve the quality of life for communities. A sustainable economy is one that can meet society's current needs without compromising future generations' ability to meet their own needs. This includes things like reducing waste, conserving energy, and using renewable resources in a responsible way.

Sustainability & Business

Businesses are also working to become more sustainable.  According to a study by Deloitte, over 90% of business leaders believe that businesses should be stewards of society.  HBR points out that some business leaders are now focusing on what is called the triple bottom line: Profits, People, and the Planet. 

So, is sustainability a value? Some would say that it is a fundamental value that should guide the actions that we take in our everyday lives. After all, the world is a finite place, with limited resources and a fragile ecosystem. We only have one planet to call home, and if we do not take care of it, we will not be able to sustain life as we know it.  Regarding the economy, if businesses or organizations are not sustainable, then they will not be able to provide value for owners, shareholders, and customers over the long term.

Is Sustainability A Practical Necessity?

Some may argue that sustainability is not a value but a practical necessity. With the population growing and resource consumption increasing, it is simply a matter of common sense to use resources wisely and preserve them for the future.  While this view may work when it comes to a single individual, it may not apply when you consider that many individuals and organizations must compete for the same resources. 

Regardless of whether or not you believe that sustainability is a value, it is clear that it is an important concept that we should all be thinking about. Whether we are individuals, businesses, or governments, we have a responsibility to ensure that our actions do not have a negative impact on the environment or future generations.

Sustainability Everyday

There are many ways that we can incorporate sustainability into our lives. For individuals, this might mean choosing to live in a more eco-friendly way, such as using public transportation, reducing waste, and supporting companies that are committed to sustainability. For businesses, it could mean implementing eco-friendly practices, such as reducing energy consumption and using recycled materials. Governments can also play a role by creating policies that encourage sustainability, such as incentives for renewable energy or stricter regulations on environmental pollution.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to prioritize sustainability is a personal one. Some people may see it as a value that guides their actions, while others may see it as a practical necessity. But regardless of how we view it, sustainability is an important concept that we should all be considering in our daily lives. By taking small steps to live more sustainably, we can collectively make a big difference in preserving the planet for future generations.

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