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  • How do you Define Sustainability? It’s probably different than mine. woman-with-basket Full view

    How do you Define Sustainability? It’s probably different than mine.

    Often, I stop to think about how we are living in an increasingly connected and dependent world. In a global economy, our choices at home don’t solely affect ourselves and our local community.

    Whether it’s reading labels from different countries while grocery shopping, browsing new technology gadgets that are manufactured across the globe, or reading news articles about plastic pollution now reaching the most remote areas on the planet, I’m always reminded that my choices every day affect others.

    My mind starts racing and I think of other countries I’ve visited; how those were either more advanced or way behind with regards to recycling, waste control, eco-options, etc. Either way, each option was a step (however small) towards increased sustainability.

    Let’s clarify the conventional definition of sustainability: “relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” More practically, sustainability means that we meet our current needs without compromising the needs of future generations. This takes into account the environment, economies, and social needs.

    Sustainability means not destroying the planet for our own immediate desires.

    The beauty of sustainability is that it can be applied in many ways, but also means that it can be defined and applied differently by diverse groups, practical and culturally relevant to one group, but not to another. The benefits of more sustainable living are universal, but the application of them within cultural contexts is key in order to succeed and to get communities on board.

    How communities make sustainability relevant

    One amazing example of how sustainability has been framed in a cultural context is the “Deja el Plastico” campaign in California. The colorful reusable market bag, used in many Latino countries, was the image of a movement to gather Latino support for the ban of plastic bags in California in the early 2010’s.

    In early October, the third annual Black Sustainability Summit took place in Atlanta, Georgia, providing a space for the African diaspora to discuss sustainable food systems, alternative energy, water purification and irrigation, holistic health/nutrition, waste management, and more.

    There is a growing trend within some of the largest Asian economies regarding stronger corporate responsibility. In China, the threat of urban pollution has driven consumers to rank “protecting the environment” as one of the most important things a company can do to be socially responsible.

    These are just a few examples of how diverse communities are embracing sustainability practices while applying their cultural perspectives and values and taking steps towards creating a sustainable mindset for global interconnectedness. A culturally relevant view of sustainability is critical for the future of the planet; our future.

    How would you define sustainability in your life and within your community? We want to hear from you! Take this 10-minute survey to tell us your thoughts on the movement and you’ll also be entered to win a $50 Visa Gift Card!

    Please send any comments or suggestions through contact(at)greenphillyblog.com or on social media. 

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    Sofia Sainz

    About Sofia Sainz

    Sofia Sainz works as a Senior Associate for the Wildlife Conservation Society and is based in New York City. When she’s not in the office supporting fundraising initiatives that are saving species in the wild, you can find her leading hikes as a volunteer for Latino Outdoors, finishing up her last semester of grad school, enjoying (bottomless) brunches, spending time with familia, and trying new vegetarian recipes.

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