Introduction to Sustainability

Introduction to Sustainability

Welcome to Stay Sustainable! This blog is dedicated to sustainability and how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. We will be exploring topics including veganism, renewable resources, pollution, and much more! For my first blog, I am going to introduce the topic of sustainability and what it means to live sustainably.

What is sustainability? Sustainability is a term that has been used more often in the past decade than any other time in our history. However, as someone who is majoring in animal ecology and minoring in sustainability, I have found that many people do not know the meaning of sustainability. When I tell my friends and family, “I am minoring in sustainability, I am so excited!” I am often asked, “Oh…wait, what is that?” If you were to look up sustainability in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you would find, “able to last or continue for a long time.” Now, if you were to apply this definition to Earth’s energy and natural resources, you would get, “a method or lifestyle of using or harvesting resources so that the resources are not depleted or permanently damaged.” So, sustainability is all about lowering human consumption of resources and waste production in order to “sustain” human populations and the resources we consume for the rest of time. By practicing sustainability, we will not only be protecting our own species but our fellow inhabitants and the planet we share together.

Why is sustainability important? With the development of modern medicine and industry in the 20th century, the U.S. and other more developed countries found that their death rates and birth rates had stabilized, meaning the amount of births equaled the number of deaths. However, many countries that had access to medicine but were not industrialized became stuck in a transition phase, meaning death rates were low while birth rates were extremely high. This is still the case today for many less developed countries. This, along with other factors such as cultural attitudes and education level, have lead to extreme overpopulation in these countries. So, how does sustainability relate to overpopulation? Well, as a consequence of overpopulation, more food and material resources are needed to support a greater number of people. However, many of our resources are non-renewable, meaning they are of limited supply or it requires too much time for the supply to regenerate (ex: natural gas, oil). Not only this, but the harvesting and use of these non-renewable resources further contributes to our global green house gas emissions. This includes the burning of fossil fuels in cars, planes, factories, electrical energy consumption, and modern day agricultural practices. Over the next few decades, we need to be searching for sustainable, renewable resources that can support our growing populations while reducing energy consumption and green house gas emissions.

What is an example of a sustainable resource? An example of a sustainable resource that has taken storm here in the U.S. and around the world is bamboo. Bamboo is a grass of great strength and versatility. It can be grown on virtually every continent and is known as the fastest growing plant on our planet. A bamboo clump can be harvested after 2-3 years of growth where a hard wood tree cannot be harvested until 20-50 years of growth. Not only this, but the harvesting of bamboo can be done by hand, reducing the amount of green house gas emissions that would otherwise be released with mechanical harvesting. These qualities make bamboo an excellent renewable resource to replace hardwood and softwoods as building material around the world. Bamboo is now being used to construct homes, fences, and even suspensory bridges. While it is great for construction, bamboo can also be used to make clothing, utensils, medicine, and food as well. This is just one of the many renewable resources that has the potential to put humans on a more sustainable and eco-friendly path by providing a number of wanted materials in a short period of time. Some of my later blog posts will touch on more amazing, renewable resources!

Now that you have learned about what it means to be sustainable and what makes a sustainable resource, my next blog post will be about how to make small sustainable changes in your own life that can reduce your energy consumption and waste production!

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