All life and human achievement is in reciprocal relation to our natural and social environments – born from its environment, yet impacts and re-forms that same environment. We share a responsibility to ensure that our relationship with our environs is concerted and progressive to best meet the needs of the present without compromising our future. To be sustainable is then to engage and form our environment so as to leave it continually better off for the sake of continually better lives and continually superior human achievements.
Sustainability is the carrying out of all we do in such a way that conditions are no worse for subsequent generations than for our own. This notion applies to virtually all areas of our lives but is particularly relevant to issues of environmental quality and resource availability – our interrelationship with the earth.
We have been lulled into the belief that resources such as energy, water, land, and materials are limitless. The problems associated with failing to live sustainably have been widely discussed; including energy shortages, air and water degradation, global climate change, ozone depletion, species extinction, and the list goes on. Avoiding these potentially catastrophic events is reason enough to demand a shift to sustainable practices in all that we do. In doing so however, we must recognize that such an approach offers an equally important opportunity for significant enhancements to the quality of our lives.
While technological advancement presents options for reducing our environmental impact, far more important is a keen awareness of our actions and their effects. We must actively engage smart, creative solutions towards meeting our needs with a reduced demand on resources. Decreasing consumption and recognizing the value of utilized resources offers immediate opportunities to encourage significant environmental improvements and a framework for the appropriate use of new technologies as they become available.
Many of our basic attitudes regarding planning, architecture, design, transportation and living-in-general are conditioned by the misconception of limitless resources. The rethinking of this starting point will not only offer a future for our children and grandchildren, but has the potential to enhance the beauty of our daily existence.