What is sustainability?

General Article icon Type: General Article

The resources we use and our impact on the environment effectively depend on three main factors: 

  • Population – how many of us there are consuming and creating waste
  • Affluence, or consumption – the amount of goods and services on average we each use
  • Technology – how inefficiently/ harmfully we produce these goods and services

Living sustainably means balancing our consumption, our technology choices and our population numbers in order to live within the resources of the planet. It means maintaining a stable and healthy environment for both humanity and biodiversity.

The implications are radical. As a minimum a sustainable society, i.e. one that could physically be sustained indefinitely, would need a stable or reducing population, very high levels of reuse and recycling, 100% renewable energy and no net loss of soil and biodiversity. No country is yet near it.

We are already eating into our capital, col

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