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What is sustainability?

Photo: Tobias Weinhold, Unsplash

We’re currently consuming resources and polluting the planet at a level the Earth cannot sustain. Ecological footprinting shows that if everyone in the world consumed as many natural resources as the average European, we’d need three planets to support us.

Why sustainability in St Albans?

You may be surprised to hear that St Albans has the second highest ecological footprint of all the UK’s cities and we all use 10 litres of water per day more than the UK average.

In July 2019, St Albans District Council voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency. We recognise, such is the gravity and severity of the climate crisis we are now facing, that the only way to avoid irreversible and catastrophic damage to our natural world is to work together.

St Albans District Council aims to eliminate its own emissions and work together to decarbonise the District by 2030, 20 years in advance of the government’s current net zero target of 2050. We must not forget that this challenge, great though it is, offers an exciting opportunity to help transform our District for the better, helping to deliver economic and publish health benefits, creating ‘green’ jobs and reducing energy expenditure.

The Council’s Sustainability and Climate Crisis Strategy states that “We cannot do this alone. As a Council, we recognise that the total support of local businesses, schools, community and faith groups and residents is vital to our success. By working collaboratively, consulting and listening to our residents and businesses, we will strive to meet our objectives.

We call on local people to help work with us to find ways to reduce our impact on the environment, never underestimating the power that small changes we can all make can have on protecting the natural world.”

How do we define sustainability?

Sustainable St Albans uses the One Planet Living framework to explain what we mean by sustainable living:

OPL_Flower_Colour_RGB-01One Planet Living is the vision of a world in which people enjoy happy, healthy lives within their fair share of the earth’s resources, leaving space for wildlife and wilderness. 

Sustainability means development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable living is when we consider the impact of fossil fuels on global warming and climate change and develop ways to make our energy use more efficient.

We reduce our over-consumption, re-build communities that support each other, and maintain heritage rather than destroy it.

We protect existing bio-diversity and natural habitats, conserve water, and support equitable local economies. Overall we promote health and well-being.

Take climate action

Become a climate hero by taking a few simple steps to reducing your carbon footprint.

Why not try a few steps from the list below as way to start.

Download the Climate Action card here

We’ve also compiled a whole section of resources to help you live more sustainably. Visit our What you can do at home page to learn more.

Further reading

  • Sustainable Cities Index: Balancing the economic, social and environmental needs of the world’s leading cities in a report by Arcadis.
  • Climate change: information from NASA
  • Habitat Loss: “Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.” WWF report.