WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY?
Sustainability is the concept of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability
of future generations to meet their needs. It is progress toward a sustainable economy, society and
environment (environment, equity and economy).
Sustainability can be described as each of us doing our part to build the kind of
world—economically, environmentally and socially—that we want to live in, and one that we want our
children and grandchildren to inherit. It means becoming aware of all interconnections—visible and
invisible—in which our day-to-day choices affect the intricate balance of social, economic and
The United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) introduced the far-reaching implications of the term, “sustainable,” in their widely cited report, Our Common Future (1987): “Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable—to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
SUSTAINABILITY IN K-12 EDUCATION:
Why Sustainability in the classrooms?
Students have a chance to make a huge difference in this world. Teach them why change is necessary
so their future sustainability behaviors will become the norm. Change is hard for most adults, but if
students learn what they need to do to help create a healthy environment, economy and community,
then it will be more natural as they mature. Yes, critical thinking skills are important, but change
agent skills are necessary right now.
Teachers have the perfect opportunity to bring sustainability into the classroom and make it a school-wide vision and mission. No matter what subject you teach, there is a way to bring sustainability into your lessons. There are so many resources out there, and some are listed below.
WAYS TO SUPPORT SUSTAINABILITY:
- Turn off lights and use natural light
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs
- Enable sleep settings on monitors/computers and turn off copiers, computers, printers, fax machines, etc, when not in use
- Turn off water when washing hands, brushing teeth and washing dishes
- Walk, bike or use public transportation to get to campus, lunches and meetings. If you drive to campus, leave your car parked once you arrive and use alternate transportation to get around on campus.
- Buy produce at farmers' markets
- Reduce, reuse, recycle and RETHINK!
- Buy EnergyStar electronics and appliances
- Purchase environmentally friendly products including recycled or sustainable forestry paper, nontoxic cleaning supplies, local food, etc.
- Educate yourself and others about your ecological footprint
- Be respectful of everyone and treat people equally
- Use local products and support the local economy
- Volunteer in the community! Make a difference. For volunteer opportunities, check out the Center for Leadership Education and Service in the Fisher University Union
MORE PERSONAL WAYS TO TAKE ACTION:
- Consume less by using durable goods vs. disposables or throwaways
- Conserve water using water efficient products and consuming less
- Set indoor temperatures correctly
- Stay healthy by exercising more and eating fresh veggies and organic foods
- Help the local economy by buying local and regional manufactured goods
- Save resources using reusable materials, such as 100% recycled paper
- Reduce waste through campus and community recycling programs
- Buy smart such as fair trade coffee
- Get involved with community service projects and campus sustainability programs (social justice)
SUSTAINABILITY AND TRAVEL (PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL TRAVEL):
- Avoid purchasing travel size toiletries; instead, purchase reusable travel size containers
- Carpool to the airport with other colleagues from your institution, or institutions in the area
- Bring your own conference bag
- Reuse your towels/bed linens in the hotel
- Limit the length of your showers in the hotel
- Turn off your lights and air conditioning before you leave the hotel room
- Unplug electronics in your hotel room such as cell phone chargers and laptops
- Eat at local establishments that are known for purchasing organic and local foods or eat at minority-owned franchises
- Purchase fair trade coffee
- If you choose to leave the convention center, walk and avoid taxi cabs
- Encourage your commission and state/international delegation not to purchase "giveaways" and to limit their paper handouts
- Don't take more food than what you are going to eat at receptions
- If you are presenting at the convention, do not bring handouts – collect e-mail addresses for people who would like the handouts or post the materials on your Web site