Environmental sustainability involves the conservation of land, freshwater, oceans, forests, and air. Nowadays there are many remarkable environmental sustainability examples aiming at stopping or even reversing the negative impact of human activities on the environment.
Environmental sustainability examples can leverage 2 different types of activity:
- Environmental management – Use environmental science and conservation biology to actively manage the allocation of natural resources. Taking into account the capacity of the ecosystem to absorb the impact of human activities.
- Demand management – Influence the demand for natural resources by leveraging green technology, government incentives and regulations, and promoting environmental awareness and an eco-friendly lifestyle.
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Environmental Sustainability Examples
Here are 7 interesting environmental sustainability examples using both environmental management and demand management practices.
1. Sustainable Forest Management
Forests are the key contributors to the global environment. They host wildlife, and secondly, they purify the air from harmful pollutants and prevent soil erosion. Forests are the major contributors to the health of the ecosystem.
Unfortunately, harsh exploitation by human beings has led to deforestation across the world, affecting the environment significantly.
Sustainable forest management is one of the oldest environmental sustainability examples. In fact, those practices started already in the 18th century, when for each tree that was cut to produce a new ship, another tree was planted.
Modern sustainable forestry practices provide a chance to conserve some natural resources in their original state. This is accomplished by re-planting the number of trees that have been cut down.
In a modern sustainable forest, seedlings are grown in greenhouses and later transferred to the forest. In about 10 years, the seedlings develop into young trees within the natural environment.
Thinning is done after every 5 years to support the continuous growth of the stronger trees.
After 20 to 25 years, it is possible to proceed with deforestation, then new seedlings are planted to replace the trees that have been cut down, and the process continues.
This is the perfect way to sustain the forest environment and maintain its greenery. In addition, a growing forest will also produce more oxigen compared to a very mature one.
Sustainable forest management is a perfect example of successful environmental management and a great example of environmental sustainability.
2. Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable agriculture is a great environmental sustainability example. It combines plant and animal production practices to enhance productivity and reduce the environmental impact.
Sustainable agriculture practices assimilate biological and ecological processes into agriculture, minimizing the reliance on non-renewable resources and unsustainable inorganic processes.
- Crop rotation is the perfect way to maximize the crops’ productivity. It helps renew soil fertility. Plant and animal waste can be recycled and used as manure to improve the nitrogen content in the soil.
- Water management is another important aspect that plays a massive role in sustainable agriculture. In many dry locations, adequate water resources may not be available. In such locations, water preservation and storage are enhanced. Drip irrigation is another perfect way to conserve water resources without any wastage.
On a smaller scale, growing your own food is also a remarkable environmental sustainability example because you will have to buy fewer food from the store, where they may sell food coming from the other side of the world.
3. Sustainable Construction
Large amounts of energy are consumed yearly for domestic purposes globally, including heating, cooling, and lighting.
This can be reduced significantly by ensuring that homes and commercial buildings are built with sustainable concrete, are energy efficient, and use renewable energy sources.
It’s interesting that it is exactly in this sector where we can find one of the most impactful environmental sustainability examples: sustainable construction and sustainable urban design.
In sustainable construction, a resource-efficient approach is applied throughout the building, starting the life cycle with the planning, construction method, operation, and maintenance.
The buildings are designed to be well insulated for maximum surface exposure to sunlight in cool climates, allowing natural lighting and warming.
Buildings are also designed to be well ventilated in warm climates for minimum heating and proper lighting. This lowers the costs of temperature control and saves a lot of lighting expenses.
Sustainable urban design is instead focusing on leveraging urban planning to improve sustainability.
Things such as the inclusion of the green spaces into the residential areas enhances the location’s aesthetics and provides a perfect outdoor location to enjoy.
Sustainable construction and sustainable urban design are interesting environmental sustainability examples based on demand management: the demand for energy and other natural resources is reduced thanks to green technologies and
4. Waste Management
Waste management or zero-waste policies are important examples of environmental sustainability that we should definitely pay more attention to. Because, unfortunately, massive wastage is still produced daily in every country.
The unmindful disposal of these wastes into water bodies negatively impacts the environment and our health. Additionally, sea creatures are also suffering due to this disposal.
Sustainable waste management begins with the life cycle of the product. The design and manufacturing process is designed to generate minimum waste. If it does generate some waste, then the disposal of things like packaging materials should not affect the environment (recycling or biodegradable) or have minimal impact.
Many industries have begun packing products in biodegradable materials or using only cardboard, minimizing the environmental impact.
In fact, recycling more materials can lead to environmental sustainability more quickly.
In this area, baled cardboard recycling is for sure a very remarkable example of environmental sustainability. Thanks to this, most of the packaging materials used today are recycled, saving trees and creating eco-friendly jobs as well!
Composting is a perfect way to handle organic waste that can be used as manure for gardening.
Similarly, wastes like metal, plastic, and nylon can be recycled rather than disposed of for incineration.
One of the most considerable environmental threats is the massive daily production of plastic waste. It threatens both aquatic life and alters the soil’s fertility. It’s also not advisable to burn plastic waste due to the emission of harmful gases.
Recycling is very beneficial and recycling plastic materials and reducing their use to the minimum is the perfect way to manage them and will hopefully become a great example of environmental sustainability in the future.
5. Sustainable Water Management
The largest percentage of the earth is covered by water. But we only need drinking water, which is very rare. The continuous use and disposal of water have led to the depletion of this essential life necessity in many areas of the planet, raising concerns.
Various water purification methods such as countertop reverse osmosis systems, under-counter purification, and filtration system have been developed to purify water.
However, sustainable water management methods are worth using to ensure the water supply is not depleted.
The best way to start is to install water-efficient showerheads and low-flow taps in our homes, ensuring that there is a reduced waste of water. Those types of devices can in fact reduce water consumption by up to 40%. Additionally, through this, we can use only the water we really need.
Commercial or residential complexes can also profit massively from water treatment plants that can help recycle water. Using water-efficient methods is an environmental sustainability example based on demand management and it can definitively help in reducing water wastage.
Finally, rainwater harvesting has also been introduced in many places as a method for capturing and conserving water, especially in high rainfall areas. Recent research shows that household rainwater tanks are not only cost effective, but they also help reduce the demand for new public water supply infrastructure by the order of decades.
Those are just other environmental sustainability examples showing how old solutions coupled with modern technology can help us be more eco friendly.
6. Efficient Lighting
Lighting is responsible for about 15% of your home’s electricity consumption, for this reason, efficient lighting has become an excellent example of environmental sustainability leveraging demand management.
In recent years efficient LED lighting has been gradually replacing traditional systems.
The advantages of LED lighting are pretty impressive:
- Reduced energy consumption by 85%
- Reduced maintenance costs
- Improved safety
- Life-span of over 30 years
- Reduced waste
The benefits of green technology to achieve sustainable development are huge for LED lighting.
For those reasons, it is no surprise that an investment in LED lights is simply paying off by itself and traditional light bulbs are gradually disappearing from the stores.
7. Renewable Energy
Energy is a key component of human technological development and it is also a crucial aspect of environmental sustainability.
Fossil fuels are the main energy source used today, however, those are quickly depleting due to their high demand. Although they are very cost-effective, they are examples of non renewable resources and are not sustainable.
Renewable energy sources are very well known environmental sustainability examples. Here are the main ones:
Utilizing wind energy is a perfect way to supplement the grid power without harming the environment. With a starting investment in developing a windmill, we can generate power free of charge for offices, homes, or institutions, making it a great example of environmental sustainability.
With this green energy technology, wind farms have been deployed with good wind speed in many places.
For example, the Gansu wind farm is one of the largest wind farms in the world. The farm is located in China, with a current capacity of over 8GW and a planned expansion of up to 20GW.
This shows that also countries like China are gradually starting to seriously consider environmental sustainability issues.
The sun can be utilized as an energy source thanks to various technologies. Solar energy is the most popular form of green energy that has become common across the world.
Photovoltaic systems can be deployed in areas that receive good sunlight throughout the day. The energy can be stored and used when needed.
The energy of the Sun has also been used for new technologies that can replace the continuous demand for electricity and other thermal power sources that can be hazardous to the environment. Solar thermal energy systems can be set up and used for water heating, cooking, heating homes, and generating energy.
Apart from this, the idea has also led to experiments with solar-powered cars, boats, and even airplanes.
Solar energy benefits to the environment are very important. This technology is also one of the most popular examples of environmental sustainability because thanks to it it was possible to absorb a portion of the demand for fossil fuels.
The earth’s core is extremely hot with a temperature of about 5000°C. This energy sometimes penetrates through the earth’s crust and heats underground water bodies, also known as hot springs.
Geothermal energy has been used for a long time by therapists for therapeutic baths. Additionally, it is often used also for heating and the production of clean energy.
This is another renewable source of energy that has significantly contributed to the production of clean electricity and it is also one of the first examples of environmental sustainability in modern times. In fact, due to its convenience, hydropower was already used even when being green was not yet in our minds!
Of course, hydropower has pros and cons, however, it is by far one of the cleanest and more reliable forms of renewable energy.
The power is usually generated by setting up dams and reservoirs. However, as of late, hydroelectricity has been generated without the need to set up dams.
Here is another alternative source of power. A lot of research is ongoing to develop a more efficient form of biofuel. This energy source is effective and can be used commercially.
Although biofuel has already been introduced into the market, there is still a lot of work to do to evaluate its general impact. For example, mass use of biofuels would require a lot of agricultural lands to be switched from food to the production of biofuel-yielding crops.
Biogas is a truly remarkable example of environmental sustainability that I especially love! This is because biogas can be produced from organic waste. Effectively turning waste into a resource, exactly like our mother nature does!
Biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion, a process during which organic waste is decomposed by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen.
At the moment this technology is mainly used on farms, where they have more organic waste to deal with. However, turning your household’s organic waste into clean biogas for your home is also possible right now.
This is one of the many green technology examples that can help us improve environmental sustainability by reducing our overall ecological footprint.
Environmental sustainability examples are all around us and is important to learn how to recognise and implement them.
Here are 7 environmental sustainability examples:
- Sustainable Forest Management
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Sustainable Construction
- Waste Management
- Sustainable Water Management
- Efficient Lighting
- Renewable Energy
Those are just the most popular examples of how to reduce the human environmental footprint. Those, coupled with social sustainability examples and examples of economic sustainability can definitively help to better understand sustainable development.
Not all of those examples of environmental sustainability can be applied to our day to day life, however, it is important to be aware of their existence while we do our best to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle by practicing the 6 R’s of sustainability.