We talk a lot about sustainability but what does it really mean?
There is no simple definition of ‘sustainability’. It can be an idea, a property of living systems, a manufacturing method or a way of life. In fact, there may be as many definitions of sustainability as there are people trying to define it.
However, most definitions include:
- Living within the limits of what the environment can provide
Understanding the many interconnections between economy, society and the environment
The equal distribution of resources and opportunities.
|Economic development||Resource use e.g. water||Human and worker rights|
|Local industry participation||Waste generation||Paying appropriate wages|
|Jobs created||Material sourcing||Working conditions|
|Corporate governance||Atmospheric pollution||Freedom of association|
|Public reporting||Toxic material disposal||Workforce diversity|
Sustainable development aims to meet human needs in the present while preserving the environment so that these needs can also be met in the indefinite future.
OEH implements environmental sustainability programs that include actions to:
- reduce the use of physical resources including water and energy
- encourage recycling
- increase the use of renewable resources
- encourage redesign of production processes and products to eliminate the production of toxic materials
- protect and restore natural habitats and environments valued for their biodiversity or beauty.
These programs aim to strike the balance between benefits for the environment and society and economic costs – helping to move NSW towards a more sustainable future.
Did You Know?
- Australians spend over $10.5 billion annually on goods and services that are never or hardly ever used. This is more than the total spent by governments on Australian universities and roads.
Over $5.3 billion worth of food was thrown away in 2004. This equates to 13 times the amount Australians donated to overseas aid agencies at that time.
(Source – Australia Institute, 2005 DP77)
Sustainable purchasing can save money as well as the environment. Reduced consumption means reduced purchasing costs – saving resources such as water, energy and raw materials and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.