Environmental Sustainability, the need of the hour, is one of the three core pillars of Sustainable Development.
Earth has been growing warmer for many decades. Its surface temperature in 2021was 1.87° Fahrenheit warmer than the 20-century average. In the past decade alone, 467 species have been declared extinct. All of these and plenty more are signs of our blind, unorganized, and inconsiderate over-exploitation of natural resources. It has been creating problems for many decades and the first major incident was the detection of ozone layer depletion. This brought to the world’s attention that we need Sustainable Development. One of its core pillars is Environmental Sustainability. Without a healthy environment, nothing can exist.
It is high time we move beyond taking it as just another noble concept and actually try to make it a mandatory part of our lives. But to do so, we first need to understand it a little better.
What is Environmental Sustainability?
Earth Overshoot day is an integral concept to understand in the overall conversation about Environmental Sustainability. It marks the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that earth can regenerate during the entire year. From the 1970s to 2019, the date of Earth Overshoot Day has been steadily increasing. In 1970, it fell on December 30, and in 2020, it was four months earlier on August 22. In 2022, Earth Overshoot day was on July 28. As you can see, we are Continuously exploiting natural resources.
Environmental sustainability is an integral part of Sustainable Development and its action plan. It talks about the judicious use of natural resources. Environmental Sustainability is about creating awareness and taking responsibility to conserve natural resources. It further talks about protecting the global ecosystem from over-exploration to further support health and well-being all around. Conserving nature while striking a balance between economical sustainability and optimizing social sustainability is the desired outcome that we all are aiming for by implementing Sustainable Development Goals.
Thus, Environmental Sustainability is the practice of responsible interaction with the planet to maintain natural resources in such a way that it doesn’t compromise the ability of future generations to fulfil their needs. To be more precise and technical, Environment Sustainability is the rate at which we use renewable resources, create pollution, and deplete nonrenewable resources. It talks about a situation that can be continued indefinitely and in such a way that is conducive for living organisms and suitable for planet earth as well.
What are the benefits of Environmental Sustainability?
It is almost obvious how Environmental Sustainability is crucial to our life and by and large our existence. It shouldn’t come across as a surprise there are uncountable benefits to being environmentally Sustainable. Some of them are as follows.
- Greenhouse gases, pollution levels, and environmental degradation – These are some of the most worrisome problems we are facing when it comes to the environment. If our practices are more in line with Environmental Sustainability in our mind, we will be able to mitigate this problem gradually.
- Harmonious coexistence – We humans share this planet with other species. Our inconsiderate ways have been the cause of the extinction of uncountable flora and fauna. Environmental sustainability will make it possible for us to share this planet with other species in a way where everyone can flourish without impacting others.
- Over Exploitation – To say the rate at which we are consuming renewable and nonrenewable natural resources is less than Sustainable would be an understatement. It has created degradation of not just nature but created problems for human existence as well. A more sustainable approach where we can coexist with the planet, and grow, is the mindful and purposeful use of resources, i.e, environmentally sustainable.
- Global Carbon Footprint – being Environmentally Sustainable, we can cut down the harmful practices and over-reliance on energy resources which further creates problems. We can push towards more environmentally friendly energy resources such as renewable energy and conserve nature whilst fulfilling our current needs as well.
- Conscious of the future – Being Environmentally Sustainable, we can make sure not only our needs are being fulfilled but our future generations can have the same opportunity and resources, if not more.
Some actionable steps to work towards Environmental Sustainability
As a species, we have a moral and ethical burden that we leave the planet in the same condition for our future generation which we ourselves enjoyed it. Here are some of the ways in which we can be more mindful and Environmentally Sustainable.
- Cutting out single-use plastics whenever you can is a good practice that you can be mindful of. Anything made up of plastic such as straws, shopping bags, and others can be replaced with more biodegradable options.
- Individual carbon footprint is a concept more and more people should start taking seriously. You can try to minimize your carbon footprint as low as possible.
- Using material goods as long as possible, at least till the prescribed life cycle if not more, and not throwing them out prematurely will save a lot of energy and waste.
- Shifting to practices that are more environmentally considerate, such as driving as little as possible, taking public transport, not using products that endanger wildlife, etc.
- Recycling and reusing should be a permanent part of our lifestyle and shouldn’t just be a choice when it is convenient. Being mindful of electronic waste as well.
These are just a few of the things which an individual can do. Apart from this, one can be more environmentally friendly in almost every practice and aspect of life. Businesses can create a huge difference if they consciously go for sustainable practices if they prioritize the environment. From procurement to business operations, waste disposal, and everything in between can be made environmentally sustainable. These practices will eventually strengthen the other two pillars of Sustainable Development, i.e, Social Sustainability as well as Economical sustainability.