According to recent research, global average temperatures last year were tied for the hottest on record. Meanwhile, the year broke records for disasters including drought, wildfires, and hurricanes. Unfortunately, climate change is still accelerating rapidly, and the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is the highest it has ever been in human history. To address this situation, individuals, communities, schools, non-profits, large corporations, and countries have committed to reducing carbon emissions. But the reality is that global corporate and governmental activities that are not sustainable are one reason why climate change is still rising quickly. This article explores the topic of economic sustainability, the barriers to economic sustainability, and economic sustainability examples that can inspire change.
What is Economic Sustainability?
Economic sustainability refers to practices that support the long-term economic development of a company or nation while also protecting environmental, social, and cultural elements. However, despite a universal understanding of what types of business practices contribute to climate change, economic sustainability remains a goal that few organizations achieve.
Barriers to Economic Sustainability
The global business community is one of the worst offenders when it comes to environmental harm. But the reality is that, in part as a result of unsustainable corporate and governmental actions everywhere, climate change is nevertheless advancing quickly. The products that are the cheapest to manufacture and purchase have the worst economic impact. Moreover, the expectation, from both businesses and nations, that economic growth will flow naturally from population growth is a significant barrier to economic sustainability. The problem with this premise is that a bigger economy uses more stuff than a smaller one, and we happen to live on a finite planet. Thus, an end to growth is inevitable.
Economic Sustainability Examples
Thankfully, a variety of economic sustainability examples are taking hold worldwide. In some cases, businesses and governmental agencies are improving their sustainability practices to reduce their carbon footprint. Meanwhile, enterprising companies are manufacturing products or technology that benefit the planet in some way.
One of the most exciting examples of emerging technology is air-to-water innovations that can extract water from the air. Several companies have developed or are working on these types of innovations. These types of systems are economic sustainability in action, offering economic benefits to the manufacturer while also providing enormous environmental benefits, such as reliable access to safe water (which 2.2 billion people lack worldwide) and reduced use of plastic.
Recycling is still one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Today, a variety of companies have made a business out of recycling or its counterparts: upcycling, downcycling, e-cycling, and pre-cycling. These include local recycling canters, websites like eBay, vintage and pre-owned clothing shops, and apps such as LetGo. Some communities have also committed to economic sustainability. For example, Kami katsu, Japan, started working toward a zero-waste goal more than 20 years ago. Today, residents can separate their household waste into an incredible 45 categories.
A community may easily increase the food security of its citizens through micro-farming, which also helps the local economy thrive and protects the environment. Because food isn't transported, each micro-farm has advantages including lower carbon emissions, fewer pesticide and herbicide usage, and improved public health. When a micro-farm replaces a grass yard, it can help reduce flooding and improve soil health.