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Sustainability isn’t Static

Consider each decision based on circumstance.

Are you sustainable?

This is an important question for our health, our communities, and our planet. It needs to be considered regularly in our day-to-day choices.

Sustainability = Social + Environmental + Economic

People. Planet. Profitability.

You need health and well-being, food, sleep, activity, and income. (People)

The world has a finite supply of resources we need and use to support us, and they need to be available now and for generations to come. (Planet)

Money is a tool that is used globally for survival. (Profitability) You need income to buy food, pay for shelter, and care for yourself overall, right? Yep.

Sustainability is a complex concept. On paper, it might be defined a certain way. In practice, it ebbs and flows with the decision at hand.

Let me share an example: If we get sick, our schedule and needs shift. If it’s contagious, it shifts our behavior even more. Disposables move up on our list of priorities to protect ourselves and others. Is that sustainable? If we consider only the materials, you might say no. However, if we consider the impact of spreading germs to others which then extends the need for them to all use disposables too, then, you might say yes. Containing germs is the guidepost in this scenario. Sustainability from this health-centric example includes answering how we can stop the spread as quickly as possible. Cold sores. The flu. A respiratory infection. Whether we are talking virus or bacteria, if we do what we can to minimize the spread, it ultimately cares for us, our community, and our planet. How we behave with an active case of whatever it is needs to shift to accommodate that moment.

Consider your choices when there isn’t a health emergency. We still want to minimize the spread of germs. Washing dishes, our bed sheets, towels, and clothes, our hands. Cleaning our house. Storing and cooking food at proper temperatures. We also want to minimize waste of food, packaging, resources – all of it…and isn’t this all in support of what we might call sustainability?

What if we started thinking about self care as the ultimate way to be sustainable?

What if we considered disposables an option for stopping the spread of germs instead of a convenience for a an overly busy life? Doesn’t that change our perception (and hopefully use) of these types of items?

My whole goal as a health professional is to help individuals and organizations make informed decisions. Listening to hear what is important and needed, then figuring out the best path forward for the person or business.

What is the action step for you? Do the same. Listen and learn. Really consider what is important to you and how it impacts your own health as well as those around you. Instead of judging a choice someone else might be making without understanding their circumstances, focus in on your choices and if they align with what you truly value. Consider how your choice impacts your health, how it may impact those you care about, and how it impacts the planet. You have that power!

Each day, we have the chance to make decisions that can help or derail us from our ultimate goal(s).

Remember: It’s not about perfection. It’s about progress. #ContinuousImprovement

It’s not about being prescriptive, it’s about doing the best we can in the circumstances we find ourselves in.

My challenge for you is to take each moment as it comes and make the best decision you can. This may be different some days, and that, my friends, is life. We are not static. Our circumstances are not static. Our choices can – and should – reflect that.

What will you do today in support of self care, your community, and our planet?

Additional food for thought:

“No single blueprint of sustainability will be found, as economic and social systems and ecological conditions differ widely among countries. Each nation will have to work out its own concrete policy implications. Yet irrespective of these differences, sustainable development should be seen as a global objective.” 1

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs…”1


  1. Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future. page 39, 41. Accessed 8/12/2021.

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.

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