What Is Sustainability?

By: Jonathon Cant, Category: Lifelong Learning, Date: 29 Jul 2011

To be sustainable you don’t have to rush out and buy the latest solar cell technology to power your house, you can start very small scale.

"What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
- Henry David Thoreau

We live in a dry country, we all know this, and we have had it drilled into us when we were kids that we need to save water. The public perception of the role of sustainability and sustainable living is changing; it’s no longer just about saving water. The world is changing, more and more are governments moving away from fossil fuels and pouring more money into the development of ‘green technologies’.

That’s one side, and a significant one indeed; however, it can seem a little impersonal and out of reach of the average person. Sustainability transcends this, it exists across all levels of society, no matter where you are, who you are or how you live, it impacts your daily life. It's more important than ever that we know what we can do to help, to live sustainably and preserve our environment for future generations.

Therefore, let’s have a look at exactly what sustainability is and what sustainable living is all about. If you have a look at the M2U page, you will be able to see what we here at the Australian Museum are doing. You can also have a look at how one of our bloggers reports on living sustainably by going to our Cut the Carbon blog.

To be sustainable you don’t have to rush out and buy the latest solar cell technology to power your house, you can start very small scale. Grow a pot of herbs in the kitchen, you’ll save a few extra dollars and you will also have taken your first step towards living sustainably. If you have the space, set up a simple veggie garden or even easier why not leave the car at home and get the bus or train to work? Even the smallest contribution helps, and if we can all pitch in and do our bit the total effect will be much greater in the long run.

It’s up to us to make positive changes to reduce our impact on the environment and one of the changes that we can make is to live sustainably. Without wanting to sound over dramatic it really is all about “Preserving the earth for future generations to come.” For tips on what we can all do to live more sustainably why not visit the NSW government’s site.

The question here is what does sustainability mean to you?  Also, how can we best educate people about living sustainably and its benefits? 

Let us know!



Jonathon Cant - 9.08 AM, 26 August 2011

That's fantastic, again its great to see that Museums are getting into becoming 'green' and becoming more ecologically responsible.  What a fantastic way to educate kids and everyone else about the benfits of sustainability, a veggie garden is a great way to start.  I'm sure it will enthuse many visitors and hopefully they will all head home and start to create their own gardens.

terrie - 11.08 AM, 19 August 2011
Hi, In 2012 the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum is moving to new premises that have a large yard. We hope to establish a heritage vegetable garden and a chicken run. We are also hoping for solar power to help reduce our carbon footprint.
Jonathon Cant - 9.08 AM, 19 August 2011

Thanks for your post Karen,

For me, living in a small flat as I do, close to the city, I don't get the opportunity to keep chickens or have a veggie garden.

However, I do have a pot of herbs, I do recycle, I don't own a car - I use public transport to get around or I walk everywhere, I contribute to sustainability and the environment in whatever small way that I can.

For me sustainability is about making changes in our lives to better preserve our planet for future generations to come. Small changes like, getting public transport or having that pot of herbs on the balcony, using energy saving light bulbs - it all helps. Hopefully, one day I can be more sustainable and have that veggie garden - but until then, like most of us, I simply do what I can. We all need to get into the mindset of doing whatever we can, no matter how small the change may be and the rest, I believe, will flow naturally on from there.

Jonathon Cant - 9.08 AM, 19 August 2011

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the great links, as a current student of Macquarie University my response may be a little coloured but it is good to see that museums are taking that step forward and implementing sustainable practices into their collection management and day to day operation as well.

It's also great to see large institutions such as Macquarie University (and I imagine many other universities as well) taking a leading role in the community in the implementation of much more sustainable learning and work practices thus leaving as little mark on the environment as possible.

Considering what the Univeristy has implemented i would love to know your thoughts on how best you think that we can educate and inform the public about making similar changes in their own lifestyles?

Karen Player - 7.08 PM, 08 August 2011

Thanks Jon for the post, for me Sustainability is about changing behaviours over time, starting with the little things, the easy things and working up to real long term change. I live 15kms from the city, but I have 3 chickens, a vege patch and compost bins. These changes happened over time and started with a few herbs in a pot. I've dramatically reduce the amount of waste my household generates and what we do have is recycled.

maparry - 5.08 PM, 06 August 2011
You might be interested in this video clip "Preserving the past for the future" at Part of larger project "Sustainable Learning and Teaching"

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