Monday, August 23, 2010

Sustainability 101

Sustainability is a term of growing ubiquity and importance, and for good reason. If we don't continue to find new ways to create sustainability, business loses, people lose, society loses.

How we think of sustainability becomes all the more important with each passing year. Thinking of sustainability from a systems thinking point of view, is more critical yet.

Sustainability from a systems POV takes into account not just the sustainable practices of the various actors and components of a social-economic system, but how well these practices sustain the system as a whole.

Our food chain is vulnerable, and while technology and practices have kept pace to keep much of the industrial countries supplied, we will have to continue to ask the questions of "at what cost?".
It requires enormous amounts of energy, water and chemicals to grow the foods here in North America that keep us fed, plus the amazing varieties of food stuffs we import.
But are these practices sustainable?

Fertilizers that are part of a process of that artificially enriches the soil, but the run off can deaden the water of oxygen, leaving fish stocks depleted. Where we gain in land productivity, we give away in water productivity.

As consumers either of the food we cook for ourselves, or from the restaurants we frequent, sustainable choices are going to get tougher and more critical. Likewise from the organizational side from our suppliers, grocers, and restaurants suppliers.
As systems be-ers, we will all need to think of our roles in the food supply chain, plus the many many other ways our buying habits affect the environment, and diversity of sources that makes our life style possible. We all need to, from people, from organizations, from government, to take the lead in understanding the systematic nature of our daily resources.

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