Sustainability according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the goal "to create and maintain conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations." In simple terms, the effort to use finite resources efficiently while being conscious of the consequences of overusing them with regard for the future.

To understand this concept more clearly, sustainability has been broken down into three main pillars of focus: Economy, Environment and Society. These pillars help to break up the vast interconnected areas of sustainability which each require certain amounts of attention at various levels. 

The three pillars of sustainability each contain six broad topics that relate to its respective pillar. The purpose of showing these is to provide understanding of the interactions between the environmental, social, and economic pillars in order to fully comprehend the consequences and reality of our actions. Seeking sustainable solutions in these pillars and topics allows us to simultaneously protect and give the right attention to the environment while also making our communities and economy better.

Environment: Ecosystem services, Green Engineering and Chemistry, Air Quality, Water Quality, Stressors and Resource Integrity

Social: Environmental Justice, Human Health, Participation, Education, Resource Security and Sustainable Communities

Economy: Jobs, Incentives, Supply and Demand, Natural Resource Accounting, Costs and Prices

For a brief explanation and examples on each specific topic click here.

Why Sustainability?

The future of the world depends on how we live now. Worldwide population growth and production has increased our use of resources and only made sustainability a more urgent issue. Check out these facts and figures to learn more. 


About one third of all food produced -roughly 1.3 billion tonnes worth around $1 trillion - ends up rotting in bins or spoiling  spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices


If people worldwide switched to energy efficient light bulbs the world would save US $120 billion annually

Natural Resources

Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles