When you hear the word sustainability, what do you think of? Going “green”? Producing less waste? Climate change?

If you answered yes to any of these, you’re right – but that’s not the whole picture. Strong sustainability solutions are made up of three components: the environment, society, and economy. And in order to preserve our planet and way of life we have to look at all three.

Environment. This is what most people think of when they hear the word sustainability. It has to do with – you guessed it – preserving our natural world. Whether it’s producing less CO2, becoming zero waste, or responsible water usage, it ensures we consume and regenerate our natural resources at a rate in which they don’t become scarce or permanently damaged.

Society. This is the people aspect of things. Equal labor rights, child labor laws, providing education services, creating stronger communities both locally and globally and overall ensuring everyone has a high quality of life.

Economy. It’s important to ensure that sustainable changes are also financially viable. At the end of the day we are still a market driven society and people, governments, and organizations need to make a profit.

You can think of these as the three pillars of sustainability, each working together to create balance. If any one of them is missing, the structure falls.

For example, we can’t have a world that only focuses on economic gain and disregards the environment, because sooner or later resources will run out and our world will become polluted. We also can’t have a world that only focuses on protecting the environment and people in it with no regard to cost, because organizations would fail, governments would go further into debt, and people would lose their jobs.

What this means is that when we look for solutions to become more sustainable, we need to focus on finding balance. That is why when you read our stories you’ll learn about impacts that effect all three pillars and help lead us to a more sustainable world.

If you want to learn more or see the goals we as a global society are targeting to keep our planet sustainable, check out the 17 Sustainable Development goals created by the United Nations.