What is Sustainability?

4 Systems Conditions for Sustainability*

  1. In the sustainable society, people and nature are not subject to systematically increasing concentrations of substances extracted from the earth’s crust.
    Overall Objective: Reduce harmful exposure to and reduce wasteful dependence upon fossil fuels, underground metals and minerals.
  2. In the sustainable society, people and nature are not subject to systematically increasing concentrations of substances produced by society.
    Overall Objective: Reduce harmful exposure to and reduce wasteful dependence upon chemicals and unnatural substances.
  3. In the sustainable society, people and nature are not subject to systematically increasing degradation by physical means.
    Overall Objective: Reduce encroachment upon one another and upon nature.
  4. In the sustainable society, human needs are met worldwide.
    Overall Objective: Meet human needs fairly and efficiently.

What this Might Look Like in Our Community:

  1. OBJECTIVE: Eliminate our community’s contribution to fossil fuels dependence and to the wasteful use of scarce metals and minerals.
    Practices that might change: Transit and pedestrian oriented development, renewable energy development and use, public transit, different driving practices and maintenance routines, incentives for organic agriculture, alternative fuels.
  2. OBJECTIVE: Eliminate our community’s contribution to dependence upon persistent chemicals, and wasteful use of synthetic materials.
    Practices that might change: Healthy building design and contraction that reduces the use of toxic building materials, landscape design and maintenance that uses alternatives to chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
  3. OBJECTIVE: Eliminate our community’s contributions to encroachments upon nature (e.g. water, land, wildlife, forests, soil, ecosystems)
  4. OBJECTIVE: Meet human needs fairly and efficiently.
    Practices that might change: Affordable and mixed use housing developments, locally based business and food production, the use of waste as a resource, participatory planning and community decision making, buying locally and cooperatively.

*Derived from Dr. Karl-Henrik Roberts’ Natural Step Framework