What is Sustainability?

Notes from the Hub

By Laura Greene, Sustainability Ambassador

Hi All,

I recently started my internship as a Sustainability Ambassador in the Office of Sustainability. So far, it has been great, but before the quarter gets away from us, I wanted to take some time to reflect on my first day. During orientation our Director, Jillian Buckholz, did a quick brainstorming exercise. She asked the 13 of us to shout out what words came to mind when we thought of sustainability. It was a big list, everything from, “saving water,” to “composting” to “environmental racism.” Then she began moving the two-dozen ideas into three separate categories:




Our office’s definition of Sustainability is:



Another important movement with these intersecting concepts is permaculture:



Both seek to tackle the biggest issues. Things like:

 Food Justice

Climate Change Denial

Renewable Energy

Implementing a Global Green Economy




Permaculture is a sister to sustainability. It is primarily applied on a local scope – gardens, farms and landscape architecture. Sustainability can be used more broadly is the core of permaculture. The two concepts can nourish each other, just like companion plants.

Sustainability and Permaculture are not just focused on “saving the planet,” it’s about helping the people on it. By creating public institutions, economic systems and infrastructures that preserve and provide for us ALL, we can ensure a high quality of life for us and future generations.

Even with the vast network of organizations and institutions committed to sustainability, solving any one of these issues is a daunting task. It may even feel impossible that you can do anything to enact change. But I believe even the littlest choices can yield big changes. Since we live in a capitalist framework, we can vote with our feet. You can start making changes to promote sustainability today! Here is a simple list of practical choices to get you started:


  • Educate yourself on the Three-Stream Waste System now available on Campus
  • Use your own travel mug for your daily coffee

         (Bonus: Starbucks and Einstein Bros. offer a cup discount)

  • Ditch the that disposable water bottle for a reusable container
  • Don’t patronize businesses still using styrofoam

         (Actually not recyclable, even if it’s stamped)

  •  Request your Amazon purchase be packed in recyclable materials only
  •  Purchase electronics that are rechargeable and don’t require batteries
  •  Buy Local Produce and Goods


If you are really passionate about Sustainability, contact our office for more information on how you can get more involved. The Sustainability Club will start meeting soon and you can join us to make an even bigger impact on the CSUEB community and the world.


Images Courtesy of: David Holmgren’s Book, “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability.”  Permanent Publications; 2002




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