Here at Furman’s Shi Center for Sustainability, we define sustainability as a process that “explores the dynamic relationships among social, economic and environmental systems so as to enhance the long-term quality of life.”
Those who support sustainability are working not just to improve the planet, but to improve the quality of life on earth by improving the quality of the environment, the economy and the world’s social system. And these avid supporters are working not only to improve the current condition of life, but also to leave a long-term legacy by improving the quality of life of future generations.
Obviously, sustainability is no small task; and the concept of sustainability is entirely overwhelming. In fact, at first glance sustainability is a seemingly impossible goal. Still, as is the case with all ambitious and potentially life-changing goals, sustainability is not impossible.
Of course, sustainability cannot be achieved in one fatal swoop. That would be impossible. Rather, as responsible citizens, we must approach sustainability in a patient, step-by-step way. We must break the larger goal of sustainability down into smaller, more immediate and achievable tasks. These smaller tasks, if achieved, will allow us become sustainable over time, in a permanent and manageable way.
Here is a good example of the approach described above:
In an effort to help individuals understand how they can, on a day-to-day level, work toward sustainability, The Tork Green Hygiene Council created a list of what they consider to be the “Top Tips to Having a Sustainable Summer.”
The list includes obvious things like: riding your bike, cutting down on excess waste products and using chemical-free products in your home. The list also includes things ordinary citizens might not think of, when considering sustainability, like: choosing a “greener” pool or being aware of the ingredients in one’s sunscreen and bug spray.
Here is link to the entire list: http://www.torkgreenhygienecouncil.com/media/SummerTips.pdf
In general, the Tork tips are a great example of how simple and achievable sustainability can be.
By adopting these easy and accessible tasks (and others like them) in their own lives, individuals can, ultimately, make a huge difference in our world.
As is always the case “many hands make light work.” The more we do to pursue sustainability as individuals, the more we can achieve together.