What is sustainability

Green energySustainability is about being able to live within the limits of what the environment can provide, not just for today but for every day in the future without the risk of running out.

Most Australians enjoy a lifestyle that uses lots of energy and water, and that generates a lot of pollution and waste.

Around the world, as countries develop and become wealthier, other people also want to enjoy a similar lifestyle, using more and more energy and water and buying more and more products.

To maintain this level of lifestyle we have to take more and more from the Earth. More coal to generate electricity; more oil to fuel our cars, trucks, ships and planes; and more water for industry, for drinking, cleaning, filling swimming pools and watering gardens.

Recycle binsWe also generate pollution and waste that must be stored or treated so that it doesn't cause damage to our environment and to us.

Here are some questions we need to consider in regards to sustainability.

  • Will the Earth's resources run out if we continue to maintain and improve our lifestyles?
  • Will we be able to meet the needs of future generations as well as our own?
  • Can we manage to recycle, reuse and treat our waste products to preserve the world's environment and ecosystems for the future welfare of our children and the animals, and other organisms that share the world with us?
  • Can we reduce or even eliminate the level of pollution (environmental damage) we create while maintaining and increasing our use of energy sources and water around the world?

Solar powered houseWhy is sustainability important?

Sustainability is important because all the actions we make today could have an impact on the future. We need to make smart decisions today in order to avoid impacting and limiting the choices of generations to come.

But the good news is that many countries recognise the need to change their heavy reliance on non-renewable energy sources, and are starting to talk about sustainable development. It is becoming widely understood that fossil fuels are limited and that we can’t depend on them forever. To maintain and improve our lifestyles, alternative sources of energy must be found and put into use.

How you can help?

Everyone can contribute to building a sustainable society. You too can be involved by developing habits that reduce, reuse or recycle.

Start by thinking about your family's use of electricity and other natural resources.

You can reduce the use of electricity by:

  • turning off lights, computers and televisions when they are not in use
  • closing the doors of rooms where heaters are on to keep the heat in
  • pulling back curtains on sunny winter days and let the sun in to save on electric or gas heating
  • using rechargeable batteries instead of ordinary batteries that may leak toxic metals when thrown away
  • using the oven light to check on food in the oven rather than opening the door
  • wearing warm clothes or use blankets to stay warm instead of turning on the heater.

You can reduce waste and recycle by:

  • bringing your food and drinks in reusable containers instead of plastic to school
  • setting up bins in the classroom that they can be used to sort rubbish and other materials
  • using recycled paper for school or art projects and old newspapers as mulch for the garden
  • setting up a compost bin and worm farm – not only is it a good way to recycle food scraps but also makes great fertilizer for the garden to help your plants grow
  • creating your own vegie patch and watching your favourite fruit and vegetables grow!