What does sustainable mean to you?

HearthForYou Posts: 52 ✭✭✭

I've been sitting with this question for a bit. Being new to this group and loving that people from all walks of life, political backgrounds, lifestyles and orientations are peacefully getting along here, I wonder what being sustainable means to you and how or what practices you are implementing to become sustainable. It feels like this is a beginning of a conversation. There is no right answer other than what you feel inclined to share. Thanks!


  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,483 admin

    I believe sustainability is about being kind to the earth, environment and keeping a balance. To give, instead of taking all the time. My partner and I have chosen to live off grid, try and grow as much food organically as we can, fruit, veg and herbs. We have devoted our land to being a wildlife sanctuary. We try to use our dollars wisely, trying to buy products from sustainable sources, wether it be food, clothing, timber etc. I have started to make home medicine and steer clear of pharmaceuticals. To live a long, grateful, sustainable life with lots of love, kindness and a sprinkle of humour.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    There's sustainable in the global sense of the earth being able to keep up with us. Regenerate, renew, rebuild after we have done our damage.

    Then there's the personal sense...Can I keep up with the work that has to be done to sustain me in the manner in which I'd like to be able to live. Do I earn enough money to live the way I want to? Can I physically do the hard work involved in keeping a garden? Livestock? Even pets

    I've just had to leave a lovely yard and garden because I could not earn enough in that community to pay the rent and the bills. I've cut back on what I can do right now, but I will continue to do what I can, and do more as I am able.

  • dottile46
    dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

    Sustainability is not only taking but giving back. Balancing. It is in all aspects of life. To me it is the ability to do something repeatedly while receiving the desired results. Buying a brand new Porsche on payments while working a minimum wage job is not sustainable. Growing food in the same spot year after year, without feeding the soil, is not sustainable. Continuing to grow bush beans when your have bad knees or a bad back is not sustainable.

    Sustainability is knowing limits and living within your means. This applies to gardening, health, wealth, livestock raising, and every thing involved in life.

    We've done several things just this year to create sustainable living for our family. When we bought four calves we didn't just get butcher calves, we got two heifers to raise and breed - so sustain our beef supply. We bought four pigs with two of them being gilts to raise and breed - to sustain our pork supply. Hubby built 2 ponds to sustain the water supply for our livestock. I've planted some elderberries, herbs and medicinal plants to help sustain our health. We've added to our orchard, planted more of the most used vegetables, and less of the whim vegetables. When we see canning jars or lids we buy an extra dozen or two. I bought a wood stove, we've bought a couple more freezers. We're looking at building a cold room and a smoke house. I'm sure there are other things we do or have started doing but they don't come as readily to my mind.

  • Jannajo
    Jannajo Posts: 173 ✭✭✭

    There's something creepy about sustainability -the UN has promoted it starting maybe ten years ago, giving it their very own definition, nothig like ours-something about everyone being moved to cities, small spaces, land taken over for heritage purposes, not for humans, not very palatable....it is this: the planet must be fully organised as we r getting too numerous and need everyone to just basically: 'take your damn vaccine'-as the lady says; 'take your damn bike', just hop on board no matter where we r leading u, trust us!

  • moreyshadypines
    moreyshadypines Posts: 72 ✭✭✭

    @HearthForYou, @dottile46, and others thank you for your insight. I concur as we change our "learned" social habits we become more aware of what are responsible for - our own choices - we need to be very cognoscente of our impact. Watching the videos put out by TheGrowNetwork and others who are taking responsibility for their health and welfare is enlightening. If you get a chance review this dvd - "Inhabit - a permaculture movie". As a single farmer / homesteader I have limited physical ability, and time, as I am employed full time. This is a worthwhile exchange because it allows me to keep my land to grow food and medicine and have critters.

    Getting to the question: sustainable. To utilize all the resources to the fullest - in a responsible way, when I find an excess of anything - I find a way to make that a resource, not a waste. If you are wasting something, you need to find alternatives to stop that process from continuing. Constantly evaluating your choices.

    I am using the academy here to learn proper seed saving (and other things) - I've been canning for years, now I want to can and set aside seed to replant. Learning to nurture the land, it would be ludicrous to think you can continue to take and not replenish, expecting it to be a never ending resource.

    @Jannajo stated about "trusting" people who are directing the masses. Sometimes those voices are being motivated by money, greed or power. We need to use our own sound judgement in making the best choices for ourselves, our families and our environment.

  • Hassena
    Hassena Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    I struggle with this too. It can be a tricky thing...to sustain may mean to maintain (aka sustain) the current trend. I feel like many people view sustainability as a way to live closer with the earth.

    Becoming more sustainable has been a goal, a dream of ours. What's really helped me is whilst considering the big picture of farm, is to create mini closed loop systems. To look at the entire of a closed loop system seems a little impossible on 5 acres.

    For example the garden, we make all of our own compost (with help from worms, chickens and goats), we purchase only seeds. By saving and growing more select seeds we may be able to close the loop.

    Reducing the number of our inputs and being able to provide more of what we need. I also feel moving in the direction of one's goals is important. As long as there is forward movement, then dreams are closer to being a reality.

    It's wonderful to read what ya'll are doing. Warms my heart.

    Great question! =)

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @Jannajo the definition of sustainable by the UN is , in my opinion, not a sustainable definition

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 754 ✭✭✭✭

    Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social.

  • erikawinterton
    erikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭

    I definitely feel as human beings we all have a story and Intent behind what we belive the meaning of something to be. For example, my background of sustainability began when I simply tried to conserve energy while using window wrap during the winter. Plus I brought my cardboard and plastics back to work to recycle them. Life then was sustainable for my conscious level. Now I run a micro farm, have nearly illiminated plastics, transformed my diet to clean, and a myriad of other things I didnt even know existed before. So, to me now this is also sustainable. I also have a perspective of an ideal for me that is sustainable. For example I want a zero waste micro farm, convert entirely to alternative fuels, increase regenerative ag practices, and experiment with other alternative methods of living. A of which are. Not yet confirmed "sustainable" in my practice, but might become part of my definition in the future. So, for now this is what sustainable means to me.

  • mcarryon
    mcarryon Posts: 32 ✭✭✭

    I think there are levels of sustainability. Whatever you can do helps. I grew up in Miami, drove a fast gas guzzler, ate most meals out, and wasted everything! Now, I have a very small farm in South Carolina. I raise chickens for eggs, bees for honey, and sheep for wool. I practice organic farming and no till. I drive an older Subaru and recycle. My power bill is so low, it would cost me a lot to go solar. Can I do more? Sure, each day brings new challenges.

  • Jannajo
    Jannajo Posts: 173 ✭✭✭

    @tomandcara Birds of a feather flock together, eh? No wonder we r here on this gardenng site-we cld be twins! I am 77, so proud of it- Abraham set out to find a city not made by man just at my age-bit before! Moses started at 80 I think, was strong as ever at 120....but the UN itself is hardly 'sustainable'! They look to our land, had a plan of 196 countries, 2005 to ....start up nwo for REAL!

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭

    @Jannajo You have about 10 years on me, but I am glad to be as old as I am and having lived the years I have. Sustainable living entails getting older, no matter how old a person is. Not just older, but maintaining function. Gardening and being connected t the earth helps us maintain function and enjoy life and the world we live in. In spite of all the turmoil around us, it is a beautiful world we live in.

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