Photo courtesy of ICLEI
Sustainability can be described in many different ways. Some say that it is the practice of exploiting natural resources without destroying the ecological balance of an area. Others say that it is the capacity to endure. According to the EPA, sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is a new way of thinking about an age-old concern, ensuring that our children and grandchildren inherit a tomorrow that is at least as good as today, preferably better.”
Sustainability, or being sustainable is not a fad, it is a lifestyle. And it is a lifestyle that all of us should live. It involves using science to develop new eco-friendly technologies, reappraising economic sectors, readjusting living conditions, and most importantly, making adjustments in individual lifestyles. Sustainability has the duality of being both a journey and a destination.
ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) is a worldwide community of governments that have pledged to implement sustainability in the daily lives of their citizens. To promote its’ efforts, ICLEI has developed five milestones to measure sustainability. These milestones provide a simple standardized means of assessing, measuring, and developing a sustainability plan for local governments and are currently being implemented by the business and environmental sectors of cities throughout the world. The business aspect of sustainability has a positive impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy. Often, sustainable businesses have progressive environmental policies. A business is generally described as green if it incorporates principles of sustainability into its business decisions, supplies environmentally friendly products and services that replace the need for nongreen items, and makes an enduring commitment to environmental principles in its business operations.
As a member of ICLEI, Arizona has been working to create a comprehensive sustainability plan applicable to its own needs, and Arizona State University has been doing its own part in making headlines. The school is the first in the nation to promote sustainability as a separate department. And they believe in incorporating sustainability at the corporate level. ASU issued free bus passes to students and hiked parking fees, a mass change which resulted in many people using public transit. Drastic measures like these are what make the biggest difference to the environment. As Kevin Dooley of ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business says, “It’s one thing when a single household switches to compact fluorescent bulbs- but it’s a whole different league when Wal-Mart does it and then sets a standard for its myriad suppliers.”