The theme of sustainability in The Cherry Orchard is that of being economically equitable and viable. The inhabitants of the estate are neither of these things and therefore are not living a sustainable life. The Ranevsky family is bankrupt, struggling to pay their mortgage, and yet they spend money on items they do not need. The cherry orchard has been part of the Ranevsky estate for over a century, so the family does not wish to sell it, but they have few other options. One option is to cut down the orchard and sell the land to make villas, but Madame Ranevsky won’t allow such a thing to happen to the orchard.
However, Madame Ranevsky shouldn’t have such sway over the future of the estate, because she hasn’t lived there in 6 years. After her husband passed away and her son died in an accident within the same month, she fled the estate in grief, ending up in Paris with a new lover. Her younger daughter Anya is returning with her from Paris at the start of the play, making sure her mother has some part in the future of the orchard as it is about to be sold to pay off their debts. Madame Ranevsky continues to spend money carelessly and refuses to make a plan for the orchard. She throws parties and gives alms to beggars while her own servants have only nuts to eat. Her lack of economic viability is a key factor in the downfall of the estate and its lack of sustainability. Had she focussed on the future, instead of fearing change, she could have married her daughters to rich noblemen or sold the land to make villas. Instead of dealing with her debts, she lets her brother auction for the orchard, and he loses due to lack of funds. A neighbor buys the land to make into villas, and the last scene is of the trees being cut down because the Ranevsky family wasn’t economically viable.