This month we wanted to take you back to basics. When you google “Sustainability” the overwhelming number of blogs, articles, websites, and companies is endless… or so it seems.
What is unfortunate, is that Sustainability has become somewhat of a buzzword these days, businesses are shouting about their sustainable practices, and experts are urging us towards a more sustainable way of life, but what does it mean?
In this post, we will explore the three pillars of sustainability, and break down the definition of the word so it’s easy to understand how our everyday activities can result in real-time positive change not only for the planet but for ourselves and our families.
Sustainability is fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations while ensuring a balance between environmental care, social well-being, and economic growth.
As you can see from the definition of sustainability, the concept consists of three main areas which are the following –
  1. Environmental Sustainability (1)
This is the responsibility to maintain and conserve our natural resources and to protect our local and global ecosystems. In nature, the effects of decisions we make today are not always seen or felt immediately. This is why when it comes to environmental practises, we must have a future scope of how this could impact the environment.
  1. Social Sustainability (2)
Social sustainability is about identifying and managing the impacts that businesses have on people, both positive and negative. (3) A sustainable business should have a Social License. Put simply, this means the business has ongoing support from its employees, stakeholders and the general public when it comes to operating practices.
Some examples of Social Sustainability are focusing on employee engagement and retention such as family benefits, furthering education or flexible scheduling. On a community level, businesses can contribute by sponsoring, fundraising, and investing in local projects. Lastly on a global level, businesses must look at factors like their supply chain – Are employees safe at work? Is child labour being used? Are workers paid fairly?
  1. Economic Sustainability (4)
Economic Sustainability is concerned with the environmental impacts of economic growth and forging sustainability goals to create a habitable but profitable future. A business can generate economic growth without creating environmental trade-offs. (5) For example, Australia’s largest brewery, Carlton & United Breweries has installed approximately 7,000 solar panels at their Yatala site in Queensland. These panels are estimated to brew approximately 150 million stubbies or cans every year.
On an individual level, there is so much power we hold, starting with how and where we shop. For the most part, businesses need to be given a reason for a change, if their customers are choosing competitors with more sustainable operating procedures, products or services, then a business must re-evaluate its sustainability to survive.
In Australia, it was solely consumers that spoke up to “BAN THE BAG” (plastic single-use bags) in supermarkets in favour of sustainable and reusable options.
So, as an individual prioritise your consumer and sustainability values, then seek out businesses whose practices and supply chains align with the values.