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What is Sustainability in Simple Words? A Definition of Sustainable Action

What is sustainability? Meaning and definition of acting sustainable

What is sustainability? And what is meant by sustainable action? If you're looking for answers to these questions, you've come to the right place! It is great that in the media or in everyday conversations with colleagues and friends more and more often about a possible sustainable lifestyle is talked about and discussed. But what exactly does sustainability mean? The term itself is not very specific.

In this article, I want to give you a simple, tangible definition and show you what sustainable action is all about. Let's go!

  1. Definition
  2. Origin
  3. Three pillars
  4. Meaning
  5. Closing words

What is sustainability and how is the term defined?

If something is sustainable, then it basically has a for longer lasting effect. It is durable, environmentally compatible, long-lasting and also reasonable. Conversely, if a certain behavior is not sustainable, it means that it will not work that way in the long run.

By definition, acting sustainably means taking a sustainable approach to the personal consumption of natural raw materials and other resources of the earth, Consideration for the needs of future generations to take action. Sustainability therefore means not endangering the living conditions of future generations with one's own actions - and not living at the expense of other people or creatures on earth.

Or simply explained: We should simply only consume as many resources as can be regrown. It is precisely for this reason that the concept of sustainability plays a major role, especially in environmental protection and nature conservation.

Appropriate example: The Earth Overshoot Day (Engl.: Earth Overshoot Day) is the day of the year when mankind has consumed as many resources as the earth can renew in the whole year.

Where did the concept of sustainability originate?

Forestry - the origin of sustainable action

The concept of sustainability has its origins in the Forestry. There, it was and is considered sustainable to cut down only as many trees as can grow back. The goal is to ensure that the forest provides enough wood for future use. But as we know, its importance today extends through all areas of life - from food and mobility to energy management in our own homes.

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."


"In essence, sustainable development is a process of change in which the use of resources, the destination of investments, the direction of technological development, and institutional change harmonize to increase current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations."

Brundland Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, "Our Common Future," 1987.

The contents and definitions from the Brundtland Report from 1987 indicates that sustainability has played an important role for a long time. Today, the urgency of the solutions is just much more massive. The people living today have a responsibility to master the problems and challenges of today themselves - and must not leave the problem-solving to other generations. Change is indispensable for this.

Three pillars of sustainability

Three-pillar model of sustainability is based on the assumption that sustainable development can only be achieved through the simultaneous implementation of ecological, economic and social tasks.

  • The pillar of the "Ecology" is primarily about the careful use of natural resources. We must not consume more than can be generated in the same period.
  • At the column of "Economy" is about the fact that companies should focus on long-term existence and not on maximum profit in order to protect people and the environment.
  • And the column "Social" addresses the responsibility of our actions towards other people according to the principles of sustainable action - according to justice, solidarity and equal opportunities.

Ultimately, acting according to these pillars should make our coexistence livable, viable and fair.

What does sustainability mean for all of us?

Sustainable action means being a role model

Sustainability has many faces - for example, it is sustainable if I only live off the interest on my savings. But nowadays, the term comes up mainly when it comes to environmental protection or nature conservation. We must not consume more of the earth's resources than can grow back.

But acting sustainably also means knowing why you are doing it. For example, to the greatest environmental problems of our time to solve - From climate change to the plastic waste in the sea. Or, to enrich our coexistence and create a peaceful coexistence of people, economy and nature to ensure that every individual, not just one, benefits. Or simply to go ahead, to inspire other people. And to leave their own children and grandchildren a planet on which (themselves) like to live. The Environmental awareness is indispensable for sustainable action.

Understanding the definition of sustainability and acting accordingly

If I want the world to remain as beautiful as it is - or become as beautiful as it once was - then I should act in such a way that this goal is also achieved. We are all in the same boat and must work together to ensure that it doesn't sink in the long term. So what is sustainability? Ultimately, sustainability means taking our environment into account in our actions - conserving and protecting it instead of burdening it and living at its expense.

"What we do today will determine what the world looks like tomorrow."

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (more at Sustainability Quotes)

Perhaps you are now wondering how to live more sustainably can? For example, by traveling more often by train and bicycle instead of by car or plane. Or by eating less meat and preferring a plant-based diet instead. There are endless possibilities. Take the first or next step now for a better and safer future.

Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions regarding the definition of sustainability? Then I look forward to your comment.

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: Secure now also gladly my Book "Sustainable living for beginners. So you have a constant guide for a more environmentally friendly everyday life at hand.

Coffee box Suggestions for improvement

* Links with asterisks are so-called affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with CareElite.de, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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