What Does Sustainability Really Mean and Why is it So Important?

As you gradually make the shift toward a greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle, you’ll come across the term “sustainability” everywhere you turn. Sometimes products are sustainably made, and sometimes they’re made from sustainable materials. Understanding what sustainability really means is important because it can help you make better choices for yourself and for the environment. 

What Is Sustainability?

Sustainability can be defined as our ability to not only exist, but also continue to develop in a way that does not deplete the planet’s natural resources for future generations. In the Brundtland Report, the United Nations referred to it as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 

To put this in perspective, plastic is not sustainable. It requires the use of what we call fossil fuels, and the manufacturing of plastic pumps nasty emissions into the atmosphere that will definitely affect future generations. Every time we create plastic, we are taking away from future generations’ ability to do the same because we are depleting resources. As such, plastic is not sustainable. Bamboo, on the other hand, is sustainable when it is grown and harvested properly. Using bamboo does not deplete that resource for future generations. Toothbrushes, clothing, and even toilet paper made from bamboo are considered sustainable for this reason. 

Why You Should Buy Sustainably 

If you think your purchasing habits can’t have an impact on the world around you, think again. Every time a consumer makes a purchase, that consumer is essentially voting for the types of products they want to see on store shelves. As more people shy away from plastic products in favor of their sustainable bamboo counterparts, more companies will want to provide those goods. It’s the basics of supply and demand. Over time, those big manufacturers start to produce less plastic and more sustainable materials, which benefits the Earth and everyone on it – you, your family, and even your great-great-great grandchildren! 

In other words, the more sustainable products you purchase, the more companies will rise to meet that demand for sustainability. It’s a process that takes time, and it won’t happen overnight, but it all starts with people just like you making the decision to swap a simple product for one that is better for the planet. You can swap your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one, you can purchase reusable glass or metal straws, and you can decorate your own grocery shopping bags, for example. They are very small choices, but they add up over time. 

Making a difference in the world isn’t about individually traveling to the ocean and picking up pieces of plastic for the rest of your life. In fact, for most people, all it takes is a few simple decisions to actually create a change. It won’t happen overnight, but as long as people just like you are committed to reducing their reliance on plastic, it will happen – and it will happen sustainably!  

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