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Sustainability 101

Updated: Feb 12

By Shanna Edwards

You may have heard the term sustainability being thrown around, whether it was on TV or in person. Though it might seem like a hard topic to understand, think of sustainability as a way of living today that does not hurt people in the future. There are three different aspects of sustainability:


- Economic - making sure that countries have enough money for future populations, and that they are spending their money in a responsible way.

- Social - making sure that the people of a country are healthy and have good overall well- being.

- Environmental - making sure that humans are living in balance with the natural world and protecting it from destruction.


This article mainly focuses on environmental sustainability. This can involve many things, such as not polluting the air, avoiding deforestation or protecting animals and their habitats. Environmental sustainability is very important because even though there are many resources in the world, there are also many people who need to use those resources. Since most resources aren’t infinite, they will run out at some point. It is our job to be responsible and practice sustainable habits, so we do not use up too much. This way, future generations will also have what they need to thrive.


Recently, the Earth has been getting hotter in a process known as climate change. Simply put, gases like carbon dioxide and methane would normally be radiated out to space after being released, but instead, they are getting trapped in the atmosphere in a process known as the ‘greenhouse effect’. There are many reasons for this, including the use of fossil fuels (like coal) for energy, deforestation, and overall pollution of the air. This change in temperature can lead to many negative environmental effects like wildfires, drought, melting of ice in the Arctic, and much more. As you could imagine, this isn't a good environment for people to live in.


Image from AstroCamp School

Even though the biggest contributors to climate change are large businesses,we can still do our small part to make the situation better. If we all come together, we can make a big impact. Here are some things that you can do to help:


1. Reduce - Try not to waste food, toys, clothes or anything! Lower the number of things you ask for and purchase. Ask yourself whether you really need something before you get it. Waste in the US accounts for over 30% of the planet’s waste, which is a huge problem.


2. Reuse - Try to re-purpose things you already have for other things such as crafts and decorations, like reusing a mason jar that had food in it as a vase! Also, you can donate your unwanted books, toys and clothes instead of throwing them away.

Mason jar used as a flower vase

3. Recycle - This is a way of turning old, used materials into new things again. Try putting your used plastic, paper, and metal (like the aluminum foil we use to wrap food) into recycling bins, and let your local garbage trucks take care of the rest! You can usually tell which bin is for recycling because it will be either bright blue or green and have the logo on it (see below).

Recycling is always a good idea, because otherwise much of our trash ends up in a landfill, which releases high amounts of a gas called methane that contributes to climate change.


4. Fixing things - Instead of throwing away your old or broken watches and toys, ask your parents to get them fixed. This lowers the number of things you throw away, and thus, reduces waste.


5. Start a garden - You can plant a tree, some flowers or even fruits and veggies to use. You can also go further by collecting rainwater to use for your indoor plants instead of using water from the sink.

Small vegetable garden

Sources:

1. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sustainability.asp.

2. https://www.environmentalscience.org/sustainability

3. https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/19/what-is-the-greenhouse-effect/

4. https://www.edf.org/climate/how-climate-change-plunders-planet

Editor: Jo Ann Sun

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