The Definition of Sustainability has been expressed with a variety of ideas because Sustainability can be an idea, a lifestyle, a systematic process, or a practice. Sustainability can be explained in numerous ways depending on the person defining the term as well as their goals towards environmental stewardship. The most simplistic way to define sustainability is maintaining the resources of today without limiting the resources of tomorrow, or similarly said by Sustainable Seattle “allowing future generations to inherit a tomorrow that is at least as good as today, preferably better.” Defining sustainability has increased in importance because originally, this term applied exclusively to natural resources in the environment, but as the idea expands the definitions of sustainability are being applied to additional disciplines that have a long term goal in mind.
Sustainability is a term with increasing importance because resources are being depleted. Due to the possibility of resource exhaustion in the present, there is concern that these resources will not be available for future generations. This is a concern for a variety of people from different backgrounds who want to sustain for the future. For example, the clothing company Patagonia uses materials to achieve a more sustainable future. Another example would be Bucknell University’s sustainability building practices of their new academic building, Academic West. Although the main understanding of sustainability is sustaining resources, there has been three principles of sustainability that aid to define what it means to be sustainable.
The three principles of sustainability are social, economic, and environmental. A sustainable community has all three of these principles working in constant interaction and synchronization in consideration for the future. The sustainability principles are also referred to as the three legged stool of sustainability. Recently, a fourth aspect of sustainability has been implemented, which is culture. Culture factors values and traditions into the practice of sustainability. By understanding that sustainability must take social, economic, and environmental principles into concern, the definition of sustainability becomes more clear. Without understanding and fulfilling the needs and materials of the Earth’s social, economic, and environmental aspects, a sustainable future cannot be achieved. To be sustainable or to apply sustainability, there must be concern for the way of life in the future.