Earth Day: Sustainability and You

4 Apr

Earth Day Banner

By happenstance, I decided to start a course on sustainability through Coursera last month.  I’ve been interested in online learning lately, but hadn’t found a method that clicked with me.  I’m pleased to say that this class is pretty amazing.  It’s taught at a high level, has a real textbook, real quizzes (that you actually have to pay attention to answer), and so much great discussion.  I came into the class with preconceived doubts about self-motivated online learning, but I’ve learned almost as much as I would have in a college course right now.  I’m so on board.

I didn’t start writing this post to extoll the virtues of Coursera (more on that later this month).  I wanted to share some things I learned in the class that have a real application to how we approach sustainability and living green in our everyday lives.   I’m a sucker for graphs and diagrams, so here’s one that helps illustrate the factors that go into sustainability:

Image from University of South Florida.

Image from University of South Florida.

The way I learned it was Community (people), Environment (planet) and Economy (profits), but the thought is the same.  This chart is obviously built to describe sustainability on a global scale.  It’s difficult to affect major change on things like national GDP, deforestation of the rainforest and poverty in Africa without becoming Secretary of State or founding an NGO, so we’re not even going to go there.

Our Earth Day posts are sticking a little closer to home and I think this chart can help on a smaller scale as well.  Every choice we make affects other options.  Living sustainable means balancing those pros and cons.  Just as a government shouldn’t have to go broke to protect its natural resources, as individuals we have to decide how to balance our lives to achieve sustainability.  Sometimes we steal from one section to support the other, but in the grand scheme of things we should aim for balance.  Our goal should be a prosperous, fulfilling life that supports all forms of life on this planet.

If everyone could live sustainable individual lives, we could have a sustainable planet.



One Response to “Earth Day: Sustainability and You”


  1. Earth Day: All In One Place | Without a Map - August 27, 2014

    […] Lifestyle April 2, Earth Day: Recycling Challenge April 3, Earth Day: One for the Money April 4, Earth Day: Sustainability and You April 5, Shorter Showers Challenge April 6, Earth Day: Room by Room in the Bathroom April 7, Earth […]

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