We all want to live good lives, safely co-existing on the planet for as long as possible, even forever. Yet, this dream can only come true when sustainability is achieved. And one aspect of sustainability that greatly determines the kind of life that we will live now and in the future is human sustainability.
Human sustainability focuses on promoting the well-being of society and improving the quality of human life. However, some factors hinder human sustainability, such as excessive consumption trends and population growth. But when these concerns are kept in check, and people take action to lead a more sustainable life, then we are taking a step forward to attaining human sustainability.
“Life is a precious thing, you never know when you’re going to lose it. Live life while you can, because you never know which second is going to be your last.” – Hussein Nishah.
In this article, we take a deeper look into what human sustainability is and what factors affect it. Read on also to find out simple steps you can take to achieve sustainable development as an individual.
Table Of Contents
What is Human Sustainability?
Sustainability refers to all the activities, systems, and behaviors aimed at preserving natural resources and maintaining an ecological balance.
Human sustainability is a type of sustainability. It encompasses specific goals, skills, methods, and strategies that are undertaken to preserve human life and improve the well-being of the communities.
One of the enablers of human sustainability is cultural sustainability. This is about protecting and sustaining the world’s cultural heritage (both material and immaterial). Ensuring that future generations can be educated about the same traditions that we enjoy today.
At the individual level, human sustainability is enabled by emotional sustainability, which allows to connect with other people at an emotional level and create deep social relationships.
Due to factors such as global warming and harmful human practices, natural resources in the modern world have become scarce. And if nothing is done about this, these resources may eventually deplete.
Human sustainability involves sustainable business practices and investments in education, health, nutrition, access to essential services, and the development of skills and knowledge to preserve natural resources and improve the quality of human life.
Human sustainability is one of the four pillars of sustainability. These are:
All these four principles are related and work together to allow us to reach sustainable development.
Major Concerns in Human Sustainability
Consider these four main factors that affect human sustainability!
1. Consumption Trends
Nowadays, more emphasis is put on wellness and recreation to help sustain a healthy population. Environmental experts strongly advocate against the use of plastic, aerosols, and other non-biodegradable substances that lead to air pollution and contribute to full landfills.
Government entities and nutritionists advise against the consumption of processed foods. This encouragement to consume natural foods aims to sustain farms, as well as the producers or farmers that provide these.
After all, if there were little to no demand for these unprocessed foods, the companies producing these would not have enough financial resources to go on with agriculture or production.
2. Societal Values and Social Justice
Social justice encompasses strategies and programs aimed to promote equality and fairness among all people without considering their race, age, ethnicity, religion, gender, or other factors. On the other hand, societal values shape different cultures and communities.
When a population group experiences discrimination or social injustice, it leads to environmental and cultural degradation.
These problems usually cause instances of wars; wars that cost a lot of people their lives, damage the environment, and cost lots of money. Hence, we can attain human sustainability only when justice and societal values are upheld.
3. Population Growth
The Earth contains limited natural resources and land space to accommodate people and ensure that they live healthy, comfortable lives. And according to the Aquinas Center for Sustainability, the population in the world increases by 200k every day.
This population growth rate risks being too high compared to the available space and resources; if left unchecked, it could lead to fast depletion of the resources.
Human sustainability encourages the preservation of resources and the responsible use of these.
In addition, organizations such as the Aquinas Center for Sustainability advocate limiting childbirth to just two kids per woman in an effort to moderate population growth and meet all the needs of the growing population.
4. Society, Civilization, and globalization,
Globalization contributes greatly to human sustainability; when countries collaborate, they work towards attaining human sustainability goals.
Also, when civilization is encouraged in society and criminal activities are reduced, massive strategies, instances of war, and their consequences are significantly reduced. In turn, this contributes to sustainability.
How Can You Improve Human Sustainability?
Attaining human sustainability starts with you. After all, the simple choices you make daily impact the climate, the environment, and other aspects of the environment.
Therefore, to improve human sustainability, you need to start following the 6 Rs of sustainable development and paying extra attention to the kind of lifestyle you lead and the simple decisions you make each day.
Here are six simple ways how you can improve sustainability and reduce your environmental footprint!
1. Drive Less
Your driving habits greatly determine the amount of carbon footprint you leave. The more you drive, the more carbon footprint you produce, and vice versa. Instead of driving, choose more environmental-friendly means of transportation, such as walking, carpooling, riding a bike or even using public transportation.
Also, to minimize your traveling, combine errands so that you make fewer trips. And if you have to drive, ensure that your car is in good shape. Carry out tire inflations, tune-ups and maintenance services regularly. A car that is in good condition improves fuel efficiency, reducing the number of trips to the gas station.
2. Think Twice Before Shopping
Every single product you buy has an ecological footprint. It could be that the product leads to pollution during its manufacturing process, the material used to make it is not environmentally-friendly, or that the packaging will end up in landfills.
Therefore, before you buy any item, ask yourself, “Do I really need it?” Put into practice the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle“. And if you really have to buy the item, you would do well to go for a gently-used product instead of a new one. Also, choose a product that requires minimal packaging.
3. Choose Your Water Wisely
Bottled water has become so common that people consider it to be better than tap water. However, the fact is that most water bottle companies use extraction and purification processes that release toxic substances into the environment. Besides, the simple production of plastic water bottles is harmful to wildlife and communities.
If you intend to lead a sustainable life, you need to skip that water bottle and start using free water from your tap’s faucet. And despite what most people have been persuaded to believe, tap water has a much better taste and quality than bottled water.
In addition, you can filter or purify tap water to remove chlorine and other bad-tasting minerals. You can learn more about purified vs distilled water here.
The growing population in the world increases the demand for water, especially since we face droughts every now and then. Therefore, it is crucial, now more than ever, that we conserve water to prevent its depletion.
You can conserve water by fixing leaking tubs and toilets, going for low-water machine options, and taking shorter showers.
4. Go Plastic-Free
Did you know that plastic makes up the equivalent of 40% of ocean surfaces globally? And it’s not only that, but plastic also causes deaths to thousands of seals, sea turtles, sea birds, and other marine life, after these either ingest or get tangled up in the plastic.
To improve sustainability in general, make it your goal to cut down on your plastic usage. For example, choose reusable bags over plastic ones when you go shopping. Also, avoid using straws, bags, and water bottles that are only meant for single use.
Furthermore, shop online only when necessary and opt for unwrapped produce when you go to the local shops or the grocery store.
5. Green Your Home
Keeping your home in good shape is just as important as maintaining your car; it enhances energy efficiency. To green your home, provide adequate insulation and install energy-saving windows.
Also, use programmable thermostats to ensure sustainable heating and cooling, as well as energy-saving bulbs that provide efficient lighting while saving on costs.
6. Avoid Products that Endanger Wildlife
Leather does look good on us, doesn’t it? Yet, remember for leather to be obtained, a particular animal somewhere had to die. And killing animals, or supporting this in one way or the other, does not improve human sustainability.
Leather is just one of the many products that endanger animals. In the United States, it is illegal to sell, buy, trade, or import any products that are obtained from endangered species. However, even if an animal or wildlife is not an endangered species, this does not mean that it is okay to use products obtained by harming it.
Therefore, boycott any products that endanger animals or threaten their habitat. On the contrary, choose products that are made from natural, sustainable materials, such as bamboo. And if you have to eat meat, go to restaurants that have a strong policy against serving imperiled species.
Sustainability is the ultimate goal. However, we cannot achieve it unless we put in the effort and carry out strategies aimed at preserving resources and improving the quality of human life. And this is where human sustainability comes in.
Human sustainability ensures that human life is not only preserved, but its quality is also improved.
Remember, sustainability begins with you. So take the 6 steps discussed in this article to make your life more sustainable as we advance towards attaining true sustainability!