Sustainability is ‘two-way street’: it’s time to care for earth


Jennifer McLaughlin Columnist

Jennifer McLaughlin, Columnist

Take a moment, close your eyes and name three things you need to survive. If your answer included food, water and air, you have defined the very basics of sustainability and why it’s important.

Sustainability involves providing the necessities of life in a way that doesn’t harm the source of those necessities. That source is the planet. Earth has intricate and delicate processes that provide food, water and air. We need to protect these processes so that the necessities of life will continue for generations to come.

But it’s not just our basic necessities that the earth provides. Our planet also protects us in a myriad of ways such as shielding us from harmful ultraviolet rays via the ozone layer, soil structures and plants filtering and cleaning water and coastal ecosystems acting as a buffer during storms. While we don’t see these actions, we benefit from them every single day.

Without these, we are at higher risks of sunburns and skin cancer, need more technology to clean our water sources and face greater damage from storms.

Sustainability is a two-way street between the earth and the humans who inhabit it.

Think about it. If you don’t have good access to basic human needs like food and water, you are going to do whatever it takes—good or bad—to ensure you have those resources. Often these extreme measures degrade the natural environment’s ability to provide the benefits mentioned previously. That then makes these resources and basic needs harder to obtain, which then takes more extreme measures to access the resources, degrading the earth even further.

Eventually, the earth will be so degraded that you can no longer obtain basic human needs. However, if you are able to find a way to access food and water in a way that doesn’t harm the earth, you could have access to these resources for generations to come. To make this situation possible, we need to ensure that everyone has equitable access to basic human needs to that no one takes drastic measures to access them.

Sustainability is not just another popular trend. It is a way of life on which our lives and those of our descendants depend.

Jennifer McLaughlin is the sustainability specialist and can be reached at [email protected].