What does sustainability mean to you?
One dictionary defines sustainability as “the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level”.
Let’s consider water. On the one hand, we have had enough flooding throughout the country, to realise that we do not have a water flow (rate) problem. On the other hand, the dry period we have experienced this year has, for many, severely tested their access (level) to water.
What this tells me is that we do not have a water flow problem but instead, have an issue with water storage. That problem is easily fixed with the local collection and storage of rain water. This concept, a rain water harvesting system, is what we have in the St Andrews, Pukekohe, community food garden. The consequence is that in this growing season just finishing, we have not used town water to keep the garden growing.
In our food garden then, are climate and water sustainability actions that anyone can replicate at home.
The food garden also features waste sustainability in the form of a worm farm and composting system that recycles food and garden wastes to apply to the garden as fertiliser. We have not imported any fertilisers to apply to the garden this year so from those perspectives, production from the garden can be sustained at its present rate.
And of course, the garden itself adds to our community’s food sustainability and energy sustainability by growing our own food locally, and avoiding the carbon emissions from transporting it.
Not only do these actions meet the sustainability definition above, they also provide for local resilience and a measure of adaptability to climate change.
However, I prefer a more compelling definition of sustainability: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
This is what last month’s global School Strike for Climate Action was all about. In what may well have been the largest global day of climate action ever, these young people are coming of age at a crucial time in our response to climate change. Unless we take action now, they will be the generation that will have their futures compromised, the generation that has to face the consequences of our past actions, but to which they have contributed so little cause.
Here are two climate/sustainability actions that local people can take to help ensure their future is as fulfilling as our past has been.
One is to join us on the Grow Your Own Food course that starts at St Andrews on April 10th. For six Wednesday evenings, from 7:15 pm to 8:30pm, we will cover food growing: from the role of soil organisms, through when to plant seeds and seedlings, and crop rotations, to planning your own easy-as productive and no-dig food garden.
Second is to plan on coming to our 2019 Earth Day event. Spread over two days (Saturday April 27th and Sunday 28th) where we will take the next essential action in mitigating climate change: removing carbon from the atmosphere. So mark your diaries now: The Charcoal Fire Earth Day 2019 event will be held at Footbridge Centre for Innovation and Sustainability, 59 Chamberlain Rd, Bombay, Auckland.