Category: Sustainability

Sustainability Image

This image does a good job at depicting the important aspects of sustainability. The concepts within the graphic are all connected, showing not just that they are equally important, but that they are interdependent. Moreover, through its circular shape, the image shows that sustainability is dynamic, and requires constant assessment and reassessment, especially regarding development projects. To be helpful global citizens, we have to listen to those we are helping to make sure that our actions are, indeed, actually helpful. Moreover, it is a reminder that sustainability is not a one one-size fits all concept when addressing the concerns of global communities. Each community will have different strengths, weaknesses and requirements which require tailored  projects to effectively address those needs.


the previous graphic excelled at portraying the intricacies of sustainability in an easy to understand way, the “simplify your life” image misses the mark. I interpret this image as a reminder for adopting more conservative consumption habits. While this is an important facet of sustainability, it is not the only important aspect. Firstly, this thought can come across as tone-deaf because for some people, problems lie in how simple their lives are. For example, they may not have access to clean water, food, health care or education which are problems that cannot be solved by adjusting personal habits. Moreover, by focusing on a singular person. it disregards global realities of inequality and injustice which can only be addressed by first acknowledging the systemic roots of global issues. Living a sustainable life should be synonymous with creating better global infrastructures for the betterment of humanity as a whole while making sure that the planet is taken care of.

Defining Sustainability

This image best represents sustainability to me. I think this image does a good job encompassing the aspects of sustainability- and is cute! “The triple bottom line” refers to three factors that shape sustainability the economy, social needs, and environmental constraints. The imagery on the left shows three semi-circles, one representing each of these aspects, the outermost is environment while the innermost semicircle is economy. To me, this is illustrating how environmental constraints limit social needs, which in turn limit the economy. The right of the image illustrates this same principle in a different way.

I think it is important to remember sustainability isn’t just about the environment, rather it must also meet social needs and be economically feasible. While each of these aspects is important I like how this image shows a sort of hierarchy among them. I believe currently the United States acts in a way that prioritizes the economy first, often at the expense of social needs and the environment. I think it is important to challenge that perspective and instead use economics as a way to meet social needs while working within environmental constraints.

While I can see how all of the images we were presented with can relate to sustainability, this image resonated with me the least. While I do believe that simplifying your life can be a productive way to live more sustainably, that is not always the case. In many ways, technology can advance sustainability rather than reduce it, despite being less simple. The Sustainable Development Goals address how advances in medicine and energy have allowed us to advance toward our goals. In summation, reducing consumption is a beneficial way to simplify one’s life, but simpler isn’t always better.

Envisioning Sustainability

The picture showing an aesthetically pleasing green scenery with windmills and solar panels creates a perception of simplicity. I do not think sustainability should be given that perception because in reality, it will be extremely difficult to transition our fossil fuel-dependent societies. Moreover, the use of wind and solar energy gives off the message that we already have the technology to be sustainable, just that we haven’t done so yet. While some countries may have the financial means and infrastructure to do so, making the transition to sustainable societies will require structural changes that may take decades to manifest. Also, the cleanliness and use one type of grass to cover North America gives off the message that sustainability will also be this lovely aesthetic because nature is healing. This perception of sustainability is problematic because it can incentivize greenwashing and other misleading perspectives; a lot of the changes needed will not be pretty or fun to make, but they are essential if we are to transition to a sustainable future.


The second picture depicting a farmer’s market local to the Carlisle area is what sustainability means to me because it’s about seeing the systems we already have in place within our communities and utilizing them as a jumping point towards a sustainable future. It’s not about creating an elitist/exclusive culture about who is the most sustainable, it’s about accessibility.  A balance between local and globalized processes.


While recycling is a part of being sustainable, I think that this interpretation of sustainability is too simplistic. Although it is possible to recycle many different kinds of object, I have found that when people see the recycling symbol, they usually only think of recycling paper and plastic products. This is likely because the recycling symbol is usually seen on recycling cans that only accept paper and plastic products. Additionally, the recycling symbol is often associated with the physical environment. However, as illustrated below, there is more to being sustainable than just helping the planet. However, because of the associations between the recycling symbol, paper and plastic products and the physical environment, and because being sustainable means more than just helping the planet, the image of the recycling symbol does not represent sustainability to me.

I think that sustainability is better represented by the picture that shows people, trees and a water source in a dome structure under a blue sky. To me, this picture shows the positive state of society if we lived in a more sustainable world. In this picture, the people all appear happy and healthy, representing that we, as a global society, have achieved equality for all as well as a basic level of health. Furthermore, the people are all peacefully co-existing which illustrates global cooperation and amicable global relationships. Additionally, in this picture the healthy trees, as well as the fish in the water, represent the positive state of the physical environment while the water shows that there is water security and this can be extended to food security as well. Finally, the overall tone of this picture is positive and shows a prosperous world. Overall, I think my interpretation of this picture illustrates the way I define sustainability; as a way to create a prosperous society in which everyone is able to peacefully coexist with each other and their, as well as the earths, needs are met.


To me, sustainability is more than just ‘people, planet, profit’. Though this is a succinct definition of sustainability, I believe it is crucial to also take into consideration other factorsincluding the rights and dignity of the most marginalized, including indigenous peoples and rural communities. To me, sustainability includes interdependence, cosmopolitanism, equity, and anti-racism. I like the image we discussed in class, as this incorporates the idea of ‘people, planet, profit’, but goes further by explaining the way these factors intersect, namely bearable, equitable, and viable.

From the twentyfive images in the document the following image least represents my idea of sustainability:

I believe this image only takes into account the economic and environmental aspect of sustainability. To me, the image mainly focuses on the role of money in sustainability, and fails to address such factors as interdependence, and equity for traditionally marginalized peoples.

There are a few images that I believe explain sustainability in a comprehensive way. This image in particular I like, because it alludes to interdependence and cosmopolitanism:

Particularly, it shows the importance of taking responsibility in living a sustainable life, and the obligation everyone has in caring for the planet, and all that encompasses. Additionally, I think this images provides a good example of collaboration between different peoples, cultures, and countries. It shows that by working together towards a common goal, for example through partnerships, the international community can work towards more sustainability globally.

Another image that explains sustainability in a comprehensive manner is this image:

I believe this image best represents sustainability, as it incorporates the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I believe the UN SDGs provide a good framework to consider sustainability, as these goals show the interdependence within the field of sustainability. Not only does this image encompass people, planet, and prosperity, it also focuses on partnerships, dignity, and justice. Specifically, factors such as dignity and justice are crucial to consider when working towards equitable sustainability.

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