Sustainable development means building our communities so that we can all live comfortably without consuming all of our resources. We make an impact on our environment through how we live our lives. Another way to say this is that we all leave an ecological footprint. Imagine yourself in a garden. If you were to run around the garden wearing heavy boots, you would probably do a lot of damage to the fruits and vegetables growing there. If you were to walk carefully through the garden in bare feet, you would be able to eat just as many fruits and vegetables as the person wearing heavy boots, but you would also be leaving a lot more for yourself and others to eat the next day. It is the same thing with our resources. Living in a sustainable way means leaving more of things we all need to share, like water, energy, clean air and forests, for future generations.
Sustainable development is not just about conserving our resources: it is about changing our culture to make conservation a way of life. The earth has a natural balance, and over consumption of its resources, whether it is polluting or diverting water, or over-using land for building or agriculture or mining, or clear cutting of forests, or over-fishing the ocean, or burning too many fossil fuels throws that balance off and makes it difficult for the earth to renew itself. Living sustainably means only consuming as much as we need, while making sure to never consume so much that it cannot be replaced. Changing habits in daily or community life, in government or in business is often referred to as “greening practices”. The term “green” is used to refer to anything that is built for or working towards a sustainable, environmentally-friendly future.
Most people would like to live in a sustainable community, but they cannot afford to do so because current business models encourage activities that do not take into account future problems. Sustainable development creates long-term economic stability, but does not create short-term profits. Governments, businesses, and consumers all need to change their habits for sustainable development to be the norm, not the exception. By co-operating in sustainable development, we can all look forward to a green future.