Sustainability means to make choices today so there are resources tomorrow. What you choose to eat and do affects you, your community, and the planet both now and in the future. Sustainability centers on the idea that humans and nature can both benefit each other while existing in harmony. There are three main areas of sustainability: economic development, social development, and environmental protection.
Not acting towards a more sustainable future could have permanent consequences for our Earth. It can result in prolonged social disparities and inequality, mass extinction of wildlife populations, climate leading to major health crises and illness, decreased agricultural supply leading to global food shortages, and water supplies disappearing or becoming contaminated. (The Nature Conservancy, 2018)
Sustainability is a concept dating back for centuries but with the increasing climate crisis, it has become a crucial topic for the past decades. This urgency has been internalized on the younger generations and has affected the daily life of young adults. A 10-country survey of 10,000 young people ages 16 to 25 published in The Lancet, 45% of respondents said their feelings about climate change had “negatively affected their daily life and functioning.” This eco-anxiety has left many wondering what can be done to encourage climate action on college campuses and industries.
With the United States aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a global push to reach net-zero by 2050, many companies and universities are pledging to do their part in sustainability. Climate Action Plans and goals to reach carbon neutrality have been adopted by many universities.
The U.S Green Building Council regulates and certifies environmentally friendly green buildings through the LEED program. Buildings can be designed with sustainability in mind or existing buildings can make small changes to become more green. Both the MET and IREB are examples are LEED certified buildings on the HSC campus.
Look into companies where you regularly shop and see what sustainable goals they have established. Climate Action 100+ has identified 166 companies that account for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions.
Making changes to your everyday habit and household can make a large difference in the long run. Adopting composting into your household, reusing and recycling plastic/glass materials, eating less meat, limiting water usage, utilizing alternative transportation when possible, and going digital are all changes that have a positive effect on the Earth. These changes don't happen overnight, and it is important to recognize that even discussing climate change can make a difference.
Joining with other interested parties is a great way to build support and create action. Find local organizations, committees, and events that support climate action in your area. On campus, HSC's Office of Sustainability runs a Sustainability Committee that promotes sustainability on campus and discusses climate action.