Environmental sustainability is one of the pillars of sustainability, which focuses on meeting existing needs without invading the ability of upcoming generations to fulfill their immediate and future needs. Environmental sustainability is not merely the protection of the environment – it aims to promote the quality of human life while maintaining the healthy balance of the earth’s sustaining ecosystems. In simple terms, it is concerned with human beings living in a way that promotes the healthy co-existence of other life forms and the preservation of the global ecosystem now and in the future.
Oftentimes, actions and inactions that negatively impact the environment are not immediately noticed. For instance, the effect of ozone layer depletion is a culmination of years of gradual and unfelt depletion. Environmental sustainability is forward-looking, ensuring the protection of the universal ecology and the conservation of available natural resources for the health and survival of the present world population and the generations ahead. Therefore, it would be selfish of us to jeopardize the future of coming generations through today’s careless living.
Why Is Environmental Sustainability Important?
It bears repeating that environmental sustainability is required in today’s world. Human beings cannot exist without the environment. People need clean air, water, and food from the environment for everyday survival. Yet, certain human activities hamper the health of the environment, directly or indirectly impacting the quality of life of humans.
For instance, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, electricity production, and industrialization would contribute to unpredictable and extreme weather conditions, climate change, respiratory diseases, and food supply disruptions, among other things. We, therefore, cannot turn blind eyes because the environment throws back at us what we give to it.
Below are two significant explanations emphasizing the need for environmental sustainability.
Natural resources are depletable.
Natural resources are not without limits; it is only a matter of time. With the geometric rise in the global population, there is an increasing demand for environmental resources. Mindless exploitation of the available natural resources without an appropriate sustainability plan will result in the extinction of these resources.
For example, if we continue chopping down trees without planting new ones, we will soon run out of trees and perhaps food to eat. Also, mindless exploitation comes with negative consequences such as desertification, species extinction, soil depletion, soil erosion, and increased greenhouse gases.
Human health and the environment are connected.
The environment’s health is a determinant of human wellbeing and the quality of human life on earth. Lack of safe drinking water and adequate food, exposure to toxic substances, and breathing in polluted air contributes to ill health. According to the World Health Organization, an unhealthy environment accounts for approximately 13.7 million preventable deaths per year, representing 24% of all deaths worldwide. By embracing environmentally sustainable actions, we can reverse the negative consequences of industrialization, leading to healthy environments and a reduction of global disease burden and deaths.
You can Live and Let Live
To achieve environmental sustainability, we need to cultivate the habit of interacting conscientiously with our environment. The following are ways of promoting environmental sustainability.
- Recycle and reduce waste – You can reduce waste by replacing single-use plastic items like grocery bags and water bottles with reusable water flasks and tote bags. Also, recycle paper, plastic, and metal waste to improve product efficiency.
- Use renewable energy sources – Limit non-renewable energy sources; instead, opt for energy sources like solar, wind, or geothermal. You can also use energy-efficient light bulbs in place of incandescent ones.
- Practice sustainable agriculture – Despite being advantageous in producing many foods, industrial and agricultural practices that rely on chemicals may lead to water pollution and soil erosion linked to aggressive planting. However, sustainable agriculture promotes protective farming practices like crop rotation, preventing resource overuse, and enabling the soil to recover.
- Educate others – It is a problem when people are ignorant of the impact their actions and choices have on the environment. One of the ways to promote environmental sustainability is to educate others around you about the importance of environmental sustainability. Start by equipping your friends and family members with the proper knowledge that will enable them to take steps towards promoting a healthier environment.
It’s Time to Embrace Environmental Sustainability
Environmental sustainability is not merely a destination but a lifelong commitment of individuals and groups to take small and responsible steps toward sustainable living. For instance, the responsible use of natural resources for production and neglect of unsafe energy production practices contribute to the ecological balance of our global ecosystem.
It is, therefore, time to stay conscious and awaken the consciousness of others towards making the right choices for the benefit of human living and the preservation of our world. After all, living and letting live is the sole purpose of environmental sustainability.
So, Live and Let Live!
Author: Christiana Jolaoso
Photo credit: The University of Manchester
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