Sustainability, maintaining the Earth for future generations


Hello, and welcome to the second weekly column of the Sustainable Jackrabbit. Throughout the weeks you will find your furry little jackrabbit friend hopping by to give you tips on how to be sustainable and let you in on campus sustainability on-goings. But, before we get into tips, let’s make sure we understand sustainability.

 When it comes down to it, sustainability is a very broad term. However, it has a deep and important definition: meeting the needs of today without harming the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Does it kind of make sense? To further define sustainability, it is broken into three sections or pillars: environmental, economic and equity. You may have also heard them called planet, people and profit. Same thing. These each have their own definition and help shape the overarching idea of sustainability. All three pillars are so interconnected that you can’t have one without the other two.

 Environmental sustainability ensures that the resources the earth provides, such as oil, water and trees, will be here for hundreds of years to come. Now this doesn’t mean we can’t use those resources, it just tells us we should use them in moderation. That way, if we were to return to Earth in 2350, those resources would still be available for use.

 Economic sustainability secures that all people have equal access to money and resources. At the same time, it should allow the economy to function, prosper and thrive.

 Equity, or social sustainability, guarantees that all people, regardless of race, gender, faith or culture, are provided with basic human rights. These rights include, but are not limited to, food, water, shelter, education and a meaningful livelihood.

 How can this all be interconnected, you ask? Margaret Robertson, in her book “Sustainability: Principles and Practices,” paints a poignant picture.

“You are living in a rainforest in Brazil,” (remember they are working to protect the rainforest down here), “and struggling to feed your family…and you suspect that if things go on as they are your children will starve but that if you cut down your trees and plant soybeans you will get money for the soybeans, what will you choose?” To solve this, we need to become equally rounded in sustainability. In this way, will we not only be able to protect the environment, but we will also be able to provide a better life for everyone.                                               We’d love to hear from you and any questions or ideas you may have. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook, GreenState SD or from SDSU’s sustainability website,


Jennifer McLaughlin is a sustainability intern here at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected].