Many of us want to find ways to live more meaningful and environmentally sustainable lives, but are unsure of where to start. This can be because the term “sustainability” is somewhat complicated and hard to define -- what do we really mean when we say “sustainable”? Sustainable in terms of what? We have an inherent understanding that “sustainable” means things like using solar power, or composting our organic waste, but are there other ways that we can live our lives through a more sustainable lens? What does living a more “sustainable” life actually look like?
Although it can be hard to pin down a definition of sustainability, one exciting premise about choosing to live a more mindful, sustainable life is that there are almost infinite opportunities in how we can accomplish this. Decisions that we make in our everyday lives -- particularly our purchasing decisions -- can be scaled up to create large, positive impacts towards sustainability in our communities. Globally, entire supply chains can benefit from our own sustainable purchases, because this creates demand for goods that are produced with a greater emphasis on the sustainable use of resources, labour, and community support. So, the buying decisions that we make in our own lives can create real, tangible differences for the sustainable use of resources at home and abroad.
Over the next four blog posts, we will be exploring the different elements that make up the holistic definition of sustainability that we strive to support through the goods we create and the communities we serve.
To us, sustainability means a number of things:
● using resources responsibly
● inclusion and building community
● building equity into businesses
● consuming mindfully and consuming less
● individual mindfulness and self-care
● working to mitigate impacts causing climate change
To start off our discussion around “sustainability”, let’s go back to the most established definition of the word -- using resources responsibly.
Sustainability means using resources responsibly
The widely-used term “sustainability” has its roots in the concept of “sustainable development”, an idea most commonly attributed from the 1987 United Nations report entitled Our Common Future : “...development that meets the needs of the present without compromising ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. This means acting in a way that allows you to fulfill your needs but also leaves enough for the future -- using just what you need, and leaving enough for the system to restore itself so that others can access the same resources you do.
Our purchasing decisions are extremely important in helping us to have a more sustainable impact in both our own lives, and the lives of communities around the globe. We live in a time where mass-production has touched every corner of our lives. Large-scale, global supply chains make it possible to mass-produce goods cheaply while still maintaining profitability, which often disincentivizes more sustainable operations because these businesses are usually smaller and require more time in order to ensure resources are not depleted. Goods that have been produced from sustainably-harvested resources -- which allow the resource system to be managed responsibly for future generations -- are an extreme minority, although this is changing. Supporting sustainable businesses with our purchasing power means that these supply chains can continue to grow in a responsible manner, and shows that a consumer base values sustainability over mass production and depressed prices.
Our Turkish towels are produced using organically grown Turkish cotton. While cotton itself requires considerable resources to grow and harvest, organic growing methods eliminate the use of herbicides and pesticides, which in turns helps to maintain the resiliency of the soil, improve important biodiversity for the ecosystem, and safeguard the groundwater system that supports the entire growing region.
To read more about organic cotton farming practices, and the impacts of non-organic cotton, check out our past blog posts here. In our next post, we’ll look at the importance of building inclusive communities so that sustainability can work for everyone, as well as building equity into business practices.
Ira Sherr is Biologist in Toronto, Ontario. He has an Honours Bachelors of Environmental Studies and Biology, and a Masters of Science in Plant Biology. He's spent his career enthusiastically helping organizations advance research programs in the natural resources and life sciences spaces. He can be reached on LinkedIn