Sustainability: A Progression of Simple, Meaningful Traditions
Sean Patrick Danahy
Sean Patrick Danahy

Sustainability is not a call for reform any more than it is a call for regression; it is a reminder of considerations we may easily forget. History paints the story of civilizations whose growth exceeded their ability to sustain them, and in our global society, each individual action can serve to benefit or hinder our collective future.

Recycling resources has been integral to cultural development all throughout history, as far back to the times of Plato.  It is a simple concept of repurposing based on the need to reduce waste such as glass, metal, plastic. Recycling centers are highly recognizable; in fact, they are perhaps the most widely known and practiced form of sustainability today.  For example, we now repurpose old sneakers into rubber surfaces, for use in play-grounds and competitive track and field sites.  We also purchase a wide variety of recycled goods in an effort to reduce impact on the environment.

Historically speaking, survival predominated luxury, and practicality spurred ingenuity.  Sustainability equated more to a necessity out of independence than the moral/ethical dilemma prevalently featured in today’s consumerism.  The world today is flat; we can produce and consume goods and services in Bangalor, India as easily as we can in Bangor, Maine.  Though our needs for sustainability today differ from the reasons of the past, we could all use a reminder that the judicious efforts of our ancestors are a valuable guide in applying to the present, with a hope and vision for the future.

Sustainability Pyramid

Imagine yourself living 200 years in the past, on a farm, and far from local markets. This was a reality to our ancestors.  Their approach towards survival had to become sustainable.  In those times, you would scarcely imagine discarding anything if it had a means of reuse. Farming practices such as crop rotation and composting were essential to the integrity of the soil and vital to the harvest.  Preservation techniques such as drying, canning, pickling, and smoking served to increase the shelf-life of energy rich foods in hopes that a family would be sustained through harder times.

Sustainable actions can be this basic and practical.  On the other hand a sustainable system s approach can provide a balanced view of a whole society at a glance. For example, the “three domains of sustainability” is a diagram designed to outline the interdisciplinary relationship of social, economics, and environmental organizations in facilitating a sustainable society. It is important to contribute; whether small individual efforts, or larger scale initiatives such as sustainable agriculture. Supporting and participating in sustainable practices provide us increased ability to endure over time. Find out how you can become more sustainable, and be an ambassador for a better tomorrow.

Three Spheres of Sustainability

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