J500 Media and the Environment

A Sustainable Future by paulineah

I have a confession…according to myfootprint.org, it would take five planets to support my lifestyle. When I found this out, I told my friend and he jokingly called me an “environmental monster.”

I laughed at my friend’s joke, but I have to admit, it kind of stung. A monster, really? Okay, so I don’t recycle everything…I don’t always carpool…and I occasionally forget to bring my cloth bags to the grocery store. Sometimes I choose convenience over sustainability.

But I am trying to get better. And maybe that’s why it’s hard for me to have my own personal definition of sustainability. It’s evolving. 

However, I did find a good starting point for my personal definition: Meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

This definition was created in 1987 at the World Commission on Environment and Development. Robert Gilman, former editor of In Context magazine, simplifies this definition – “do onto future generations as you would have them do onto you.”

With that, I believe that sustainability is living in a way that ensures that the world not only survives, but thrives, for future generations.

More important than defining sustainability is living by it. In order to ensure that future generations have a safe and healthy environment to live in, we must have a united strategic vision for sustainability. Let’s set goals that can be achieved and focus on the things that are necessary for a healthy, sustainable future.

I think Alex Steffen does a great job in outlining his vision for a sustainable future. In addition to the amazing innovations he presents, such as the LifeStraw, he provides hope and encourages me to want to be more sustainable.

A LifeStraw filters enough water for one person for one year.

A LifeStraw filters enough water for one person for one year. (image from touchafrica.info)

Steffen’s closing remarks are particularly inspiring, “the tools we use to change the world ought to be beautiful in themselves. Not just what we need to survive.” We need to see beyond survival – we need to create a world that thrives. What will it take to do this?


~Pauline H


2 Comments so far
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Pauline, Alex Steffan is inspiring. The distinction between surviving and thriving is critical for me and my idea of sustainability includes thriving.

I had an enlightening experience on a conference call earlier this week. Chris Doran asserted that the discussion on sustainability becomes real for us when we think about meaningful existence. He articulated the early role of the faith community in the debate by describing the meeting of the World Council of Churches in Bucharest in 1974. Scientists, theologians and economists determined that quality of life is improved when we have:
– social stability
– food
– low pollution emissions
– no waste of non-renewable resources
– global climate protection

35 years later and we are still trying to figure it out…

– PegC.


Comment by margaretec

Thank you, Peg. The Report on the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD” states that “WWSD was a missed opportunity” and that the summit could have been a crucial turning point for the world. I can’t help but find that discouraging. How many opportunities can we afford to miss?

~Pauline H

Comment by paulineah

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