What is sustainable living?

Today, one of the buzz-words we hear a lot is… sustainable.

It’s almost like a brand.  We hear about sustainable development, sustainable architecture, sustainable cities, sustainable agriculture and even…sustainable living!

Basically, sustainable is something that keeps going a long time, in more-or-less the same condition, without breaking down. It’s root word is sustain – to keep, hold up or maintain. So I could for example say “during an operation they sustain a patient’s breathing with a machine, a ventilator”. We could ask “Can Bursa Spor sustain their run of success and lift the cup again?” We may also hear that “pollution of Europe’s waterways is so severe that for several months of the year, oxygen in the Baltic Sea falls to levels unsustainable for marine life”.

Algal bloom in the Baltic. Source ESA

Europe’s use of fertilizers and other chemicals cause an imbalance or explosion of algae which consume the oxygen. The term “sustainable living” has come about in response to the kind of problems Europe is having in the Baltic Sea. It’s about how our environment, society and economy come together and the balance of these three factors. If they are in harmony we can say we are practicing (doing) sustainable living. If one or more of these factors is not in balance there could be trouble ahead. A bit like a toddler riding a tricycle too fast, or the Baltic Sea today.

1 minute challenge:

Take a minute to find out more about algal blooms and dead-zones – click on the UNEP logo, then come back to this page and help answer this question:

In your own words, where do most of the world’s DEAD ZONES occur and why? Post your answer in the comment box below.

tip If we look at the UNEP description we can make a list of key facts:

  • dead zones are hypoxic (oxygen deficient) water
  • most dead zones occur in coastal areas near major industrial and agricultural areas
  • most dead zones are in the northern hemisphere
  • dead zones are caused by pollution
  • too much nitrogen and phosphorous causes algal blooms and eutrophication
  • oxygen-depleted coastal zones are increasing
  • some are permanent, most occur every year and some from time to time

These “bullet points” help us to break information into smaller chunks.  We can use them to make simple sentences – to communicate effectively.


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