So what does ‘sustainability' actually mean anyway?
It maybe a bit of a mouthful but don't be put off! ‘Sustainability' affects us all: if we achieve it there will be positive benefits both for us, our grandchildren and their grandchildren. A widely used definition is:
‘Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'
Source: World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) (The Brundtland Report)
Aren't we doing this already? My quality of life is okay!
We would need at least 4 planet earths in the future to sustain our current lifestyle – but we've only got one. If we continue with the status quo – burning natural resources to fuel our cars, homes and workplaces, cutting down forests to create furniture and agricultural land, buying packaged foods and throwing the majority into landfill the following could happen very quickly:
* More people will earn less than £1 a day, millions are already under the poverty line.
* Within 50 years, one-third of species could disappear, and thousands have already become extinct. This threatens our own survival i.e. we rely on nature for everything.
* The Arctic Ocean could be ice free in summer by 2050 - already, the flow of ice from glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled over the past decade. This means flooding of coastal areas among other things.
* Deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years -- to 300,000 people a year – already it's well over 100,000. Deaths are caused by air pollution, heat waves (like the one in Paris in 2003, the hottest summer ever, which killed 15,000), the increase in hurricanes etc.
We've caused the problems, but we can sort them out – we can reduce the negatives and increase the positives. We have the knowledge, expertise and passion to make the changes now, if we are sustainable and respect the environment, people and communities. We can't leave it up to scientists and politicians, everyone is responsible and we can all make a positive contribution– collectively we can put things right.
* We can halt climate change. Energy saving lightbulbs emit 70% less carbon, turning down a thermostat by 1 degree reduces 5% of your emissions, switching to a renewable energy supplier helps loads…there's lots we can do.
* We can be rubbish-free by maximising recycling levels, changing product design to eliminate waste and finding innovative new uses for the rubbish we generate.
* We can reduce poverty and protect endangered species by buying ethically and asking questions – by making business accountable and looking out for certification schemes like the Forest Stewardship Council and Fairtrade.
What is the college doing?
Here at Lancaster and Morecambe College we believe that understanding and managing the impact our actions have on people and on the environment is an essential part of being an ethical and socially responsible college.
As a college we believe we should respect natural limits and reduce resource consumption when carrying out our business. We recognise that in many ways we have a positive impact on society – developing skills and knowledge – we also understand the need to address the negative impacts to become more sustainable.
The college has put together a policy, strategy and action plan to make the changes that will benefit us all – from recycling our waste to supporting Fairtrade. A Sustainability Forum meets every term to update the action plan and develop initiatives.
Have a look at what we're doing and let us know your thoughts and suggestions!