The Sustainability Story

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Sustainability was defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 as “development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Simply put, sustainability means using everything around us in a manner that it does not become exhausted. As humans, we need a lot of things to survive especially with the rate of technological growth. In the quest for survival and making ourselves more comfortable, we consume, destroy and alter. This piece of work aims at telling a little story that can describe sustainability in the best possible way.

Assuming the earth is a house occupied by a family of six comprising of a husband, a wife and four children. The mother belongs to the working class and she leaves the house by 8am to return by 5pm daily. The four children are in different schools and return at different times. The younger kids close from school by 1pm while the older kids do not return until about 3pm. The mother of the house wakes up early to get the kids ready for school and also makes arrangement for their lunch when they return. She makes foods, arranges snacks and keeps fruits and sweets for them in the kitchen; the kids are all shown where the various items are placed. Provision is made for all four kids and extra items are kept in case any of them is not satisfied.

The time is 1pm and the first two kids are back from school. They rush into the kitchen to get lunch, after consuming their portion of meal prepared by their mum before she left, they are filled but out of greed, they pounce into the other lunch boxes. At this point they cannot eat anymore but decide to waste the food and throw it around. After wasting the meal, they grab different snacks and start playing around with the snacks, the fruits are squeezed, crushed on the floor and put in the bin. Eventually everywhere becomes messy and all the food and snacks neatly arranged by their mother before she left are scattered, destroyed and crushed thus making them unfit for human consumption.

The other kids return from school by 3pm and after a long day, they are tired and hungry. They are eagerly rushing home with the thoughts of the palatable meal their mother made and served in their lunch boxes before she left for work. Upon getting home, they found out that the entire house is in disarray, their food have been crushed, snacks have been dumped in the bin and there is virtually nothing left for them to eat. At this point, the other two children are left without food until their mother returns. Unfortunately, an emergency comes up at work and their mother is sent on an official duty out of town and will not return till the next day. She goes on her trip believing that the children will have enough to eat for lunch and also manage the leftover for dinner.

From the story above, who are we to blame? The mother made proper arrangements before she left, the older kids have to be in school until closing time and it is not in their power to change that. The younger kids who returned earlier are certainly going to be held responsible for this. The same applies to the earth, we are the present generation and now is our time, we have everything in our possession and the choice to use the resources wisely in order to protect the interest of the future generation lies in our hands. We can decide to destroy the environment but what happens to the unborn generation when it is their time.

Some natural resources if wisely used can last longer; some processes if refined can protect and not destroy mother earth. The call for sustainability is a global call because it affects everyone. Irrespective of your position or location, the earth is one and what affects Africa directly or indirectly affects America and what affect Asia affects Europe and it goes on and on. The Triple Bottom Line concept developed by Elkington J. in 1998 provides a holistic approach to the problem of sustainable development. Although this concept has been criticised by various authors but it is a very good means of tackling sustainability issues whilst other models are being developed. I agree with the concept because it seeks to protect the people, the planet and organisations (profit).

If we are all conscious of the need for the protection of the three pillars of sustainability as identified in the TBL concept, then we can make the world a better place and the unborn generation will meet a truly habitable world and if the message keeps spreading, they will also imbibe the principles of sustainability into their lifestyle and it ensures the protection of the generation after theirs and it keeps going.

“Please spread the word, Sustainability is the key for peaceful development”

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