How Do You Define Sustainability?

I was watching a Youtube video from the permaculturist Toby Hemenway entitled How Permaculture can save humanity and the earth but not civilization and he gets into this question on what sustainability is.

I don’t actually have a definition but I wanted you to think about “sustainability” and why it’s not ideal. If someone asks you how your marriage is and you say “Oh, it’s sustainable” your impression of that marriage isn’t great. So if you start a “sustainable” practice does that mean that it is just getting by?

I like to think about sustainable as less inputs as there are outputs. This is one of permaculture’s principles “obtain a yield“. If you aren’t, you should probably reconsider why you are doing that thing.

Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work you are doing.

This is kind of a tangent here but think about the work you do every day. What is your yield and is it a big enough yield for the amount of effort you are putting in. More importantly, is it sustainable.

Conventional farming and food production is not sustainable. Sure, there is a yield but at what cost. In order to have a field full of corn the inputs far outweigh the yield. The energy, chemicals, herbicides, fertilizers, work, etc is extreme in relation to the crop of wheat that results.

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