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What is Sustainability?

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For anyone new to the idea of sustainability, you might ask yourself, what does being ‘sustainable’ even mean? At first, thoughts of the environment might pop into your head with the idea of saving-the-planet for current and future generations. You wouldn’t be wrong, but how, exactly, would you go about doing this and what else does that entail? After all, how can one person save the planet? To help take the burden off an individual’s shoulders, it’s best to think in terms of acting locally, while thinking globally, and participating in a larger group.

While individuals can and do make a difference, for example, look at recent work done by Greta Thunberg, she clearly has a support system working with her. So, while we all can’t be a Greta, we can all do our part. And with that, the remainder of this article will explore the idea of sustainability and how the ideology goes far beyond the environment.

Pillars of Sustainability

The pillars of sustainability are: environment, economic and social and how they impact humanity as a whole. The term sustainability can be viewed as humanity's target goal of human-ecosystem equilibrium; put more simply, sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This includes not only natural resources, but also social and economic resources; which leads to the idea of acting 'ethical.' Ethical and sustainable thinking is a matter of the attitudes, behaviors, values and mindset when making decisions on how to act sustainably. This is all well and good in abstract, but what actions can one take to make sustainability a reality?

Acting Sustainably

Making cities sustainable means creating career and business opportunities, building safe and affordable housing, retail and manufacturing and through that, resilient societies and economies are created. This involves investment in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning and management in participatory and inclusive ways.

To do this, a person needs to get involved with the City Council and the Chamber of Commerce and participate in projects like the General Action Plan, the Environmental Task Force and the Environmental Action Plan; all of which are available here in Lafayette and need citizen volunteers to get involved. While the city has already (literally) drawn names out of a hat to determine who will work directly on updating the General Plan, the meetings are open to the public and everyone is encouraged to participate.

Knowing that We’re Not Alone

While we are doing what we can on a local level, it’s also important to know that the United Nations, in 2015, adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), also known as Global Goals, as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Here’s a quick list of the 17 SDGs: (1) No Poverty; (2) Zero Hunger; (3) Good Health and Well-being; (4) Quality Education; (5) Gender Equality; (6) Clean Water and Sanitation; (7) Affordable and Clean Energy; (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth; (9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; (10) Reducing Inequality; (11) Sustainable Cities and Communities; (12) Responsible Consumption and Production; (13) Climate Action; (14) Life Below Water; (15) Life On Land; (16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions; (17) Partnerships for the Goals.


If you are interested and want to do your part, get in touch with Sustainable Lafayette today. We look forward to hearing from you.


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