“Sustainability” is a buzzword typically used in reference to sustaining resources either environmentally or economically, so that they are plentiful enough today and are replenished and abundant enough for tomorrow.
It’s a pretty basic concept, yet challenging in light of competing interests between the needs and desires of today, and thoughts on how to sustain resources adequately for the future.
There is another type of sustainability that doesn’t get much attention: the “social dimension.” This refers to the threat to human well-being. Peace, security, social justice and poverty all represent the social dimension of sustainability. How well these issues are addressed in society is a mirror of social sustainability.
Social sustainability is inextricably connected to environmental and economic sustainability since market forces, if unchecked, can plunder environmental resources, putting the value of consumerism above impacts to humans and our ability to live sustainably within the resources available on the planet.
With a little forethought, the “holiday season” can impact sustainability in a positive way. No doubt gift-giving helps the economy, but when given a choice, buy locally or at least from an American company if you can.
It supports our economy and reduces the carbon footprint of shipping goods from overseas. Go for less packaging where you can to reduce accumulation at the landfill. Give to the needy, charities and service toward others in your community.
Above all else, show kindness toward others especially those close to you and even to perfect strangers. It costs nothing, but enriches us all. At least for a while, we can boost our local “social sustainability.”
For “personal sustainability,” in between the flurry of holiday activities take time to pause and reflect on how blessed we are to live here. Enjoy some time in nature. Reach out to a family member. Gather with your friends. Seek fellowship in the places you find inspiration. Hold peace in your heart.
Susan DeCarli has been a resident of San Luis Obispo County for more than 30 years, and has worked in the private and public sectors. She is a Cal Poly alumni and is a land use and environmental professional.For the complete article see the 12-14-2012 issue.
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