What is sustainability? Most people see it as saving the world through recycling or preserving the environment by planting a lot of trees. To be honest, that’s exactly what I thought before I began working for Brian Fisher at the newly developed Office of Sustainability at College of Charleston. What I soon realized is that sustainability is bigger; it’s something much more vital and important to ensuring the health of our planet.

In a society where we are driven by instant gratification, the concept of sustainability is difficult to grasp. It’s about the continual process of sustainable living, rather than instantaneous results. Sustainability is not just about the environment, but rather encompasses the process that creates a balance between the biophysical environment and human systems. This balance can be maintained to meet present human needs without sacrificing the resources of future generations.

So how do we as a society begin a process of working towards a more sustainable future? We need a common vision, a collective set of values and goals that we can all work towards. At the Office of Sustainability, we follow collective values in our day to day operations, and I believe these values are important to the global community.

Here at the College, we have a core mission: personalized experience, learning and practice. Through sustainability, we can take this mission a step further by developing meaning and purpose together as a unified hands-on experience between students, staff, and faculty, which means cooperation across multiple disciplines. Personalized education and the involvement of interdisciplinary learning are key components to our vision and directly applicable to sustainable living. Departments must no longer reject one another, but work in a collaborative way to achieve a common understanding for our future.

It is only through this kind of collaboration that we can see our ideas and values carried out. A community that emphasizes a meaningful connection of all people, businesses, organizations, and cultures based on fair practices, non-discrimination of all people and species that acts in ways that embody human rights is what is necessary for our future, and what sustainability really means.

Now as a senior at the College of Charleston, I have no doubts in what people can achieve when common goals are understood. I have witnessed the community create intelligent actions for the good of the college and the City of Charleston. We must take these actions further and come together to ensure the conservation of Earth. A sense of community is vital to a more sustainable global culture. Without the connection to others, we will lose sight of ourselves. In a current world that is so divided, we must remember that we share this planet. Our commonality must drive our collective action. We have a long road ahead of us, but I know we can do it if we work together.

*The views in this article represent the opinion of the author, and not those of CisternYard News.

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