The Ultimate Guide to Sustainability: What Are the 3 Elements of Sustainability? [2023]

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Are you tired of hearing about "sustainability" everywhere but still not exactly knowing what it means? Don't worry, we've got you covered. As experts in the field of healthy living and preserving the planet, our team at Gone Greenish™ has the comprehensive guide to understanding the 3 elements of sustainability.

What Are the 3 Elements of Sustainability?

Sustainability is focused on creating and maintaining systems and practices that are environmentally friendly, socially conscious, and economically viable. These 3 elements of sustainability are:

  • Environmental: This pillar of sustainability is focused on the planet and how to reduce our impact on it. It includes things like reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving resources, and protecting biodiversity.

  • Social: This pillar of sustainability is focused on people and ensuring that everyone has equal access to goods and resources. It includes things like improving working conditions, community development, and supporting social justice.

  • Economic: This pillar of sustainability is focused on the economy and ensuring that resources are being used efficiently and fairly. It includes things like supporting local businesses, reducing waste and promoting energy efficiency, and developing sustainable infrastructure.

Environmental Sustainability

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

One of the most significant ways we can work to reduce our environmental impact is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. There are many ways we can do this, including:

  • Walk, bike, or use public transportation: Reduce your carbon footprint by leaving your car at home and utilizing alternatives like walking, biking, or public transportation. If you must drive, consider carpooling or investing in a hybrid or electric vehicle.

  • Reduce energy usage: Simple actions like turning off lights or unplugging devices when not in use can make a big difference in reducing your energy usage and carbon footprint. Switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances can also help.

  • Eat more plant-based foods: Animal agriculture, particularly beef production, is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Eating more plant-based meals can help reduce your environmental impact.

Conserving Resources

Conserving resources is another important aspect of environmental sustainability. We can do this by:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle: The famous phrase can go a long way in resource conservation. Reduce your usage, reuse items where possible, and recycle when necessary.

  • Use less water: We can conserve water by fixing leaks, taking shorter showers, and using low-flow toilets.

  • Choose sustainable products: When shopping, opt for products made from sustainable materials. Look for certifications like Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for wood products and Rainforest Alliance for coffee and cocoa.

Protecting Biodiversity

Protecting biodiversity is crucial to maintaining a healthy planet. Some ways we can work towards this are:

  • Reduce habitat destruction: Habitat destruction is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss. We can help reduce the impact by supporting conservation efforts and protecting natural habitats.

  • Avoid supporting unsustainable fishing practices: Overfishing in our oceans is a significant issue. To reduce our impact, we can choose sustainable seafood options or opt for plant-based alternatives.

  • Promote sustainable agriculture: Sustainable agriculture can help support biodiversity by reducing the use of harmful chemicals and promoting responsible land use.

Social Sustainability

Improving Working Conditions

Social sustainability includes promoting fair and equal treatment for all people. One way we can work towards this is by improving working conditions. This includes:

  • Fair wages: Ensuring that workers are paid a living wage for their labor can help reduce poverty and improve quality of life.

  • Safe working conditions: All workers deserve a safe work environment that ensures their health and wellbeing.

  • Equal rights: All workers should have the same rights and protections, regardless of race, gender, or other factors.

Community Development

Community development is an important part of social sustainability. By supporting community development, we can ensure that everyone has equal access to goods, services, and opportunities. This includes:

  • Investing in education: Providing access to quality education can help reduce poverty and promote equal opportunity.

  • Supporting local businesses: Supporting small, local businesses can help stimulate the local economy and promote fair competition.

  • Addressing food insecurity: Ensuring that everyone has access to healthy, affordable food is crucial in promoting social sustainability.

Social Justice

Social justice is about ensuring that everyone is treated equally and fairly. This involves:

  • Addressing racial and gender inequality: Working to address systemic racism and sexism is crucial in promoting social justice.

  • Providing access to healthcare: Healthcare is a human right, and everyone should have access to quality, affordable healthcare.

  • Promoting equality in housing and transportation: Everyone should have access to safe, affordable housing and efficient transportation options.

Economic Sustainability

Supporting Local Businesses

Supporting local businesses is a crucial part of economic sustainability. It helps keep money circulating in the local economy and reduces our dependence on big corporations. Some ways we can do this are:

  • Shopping at farmers markets: Farmers markets are a great way to support small, local farms and get fresh, seasonal produce.

  • Buying from local artisans and craftspeople: Supporting local artists and craftspeople helps keep traditional skills and techniques alive.

  • Choosing independent retailers over big-box stores: Independent retailers often provide unique products and services while supporting the local community.

Reducing Waste

Reducing waste is an important part of economic sustainability. By reducing waste, we can minimize our impact on the environment and promote efficient resource usage. Some ways we can do this are:

  • Composting: Composting can help reduce food waste and create valuable soil amendment for gardening.

  • Choosing reusable products: Using reusable products like water bottles, shopping bags, and cloth napkins can help reduce waste.

  • Upcycling and repurposing: Instead of throwing things away, consider upcycling or repurposing them into something new.

Promoting Sustainable Infrastructure

Promoting sustainable infrastructure is crucial in creating a more sustainable future. This includes:

  • Investing in renewable energy: Renewable energy sources like wind and solar can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

  • Improving public transportation: Investing in public transportation can help reduce traffic congestion, lower emissions, and provide better access to opportunities.

  • Creating walkable cities and towns: Walkable communities promote healthier lifestyles, reduce traffic congestion, and support local businesses.


What do the 3 pillars of sustainability mean?

The 3 pillars of sustainability refer to the three interconnected areas of focus that work together to promote a more sustainable future: environmental, social, and economic.

What are the elements of sustainability?

The elements of sustainability are the 3 pillars: environmental, social, and economic. Each of these pillars is crucial in creating and maintaining a sustainable future.

Quick Tips and Facts

  • Sustainable practices don't have to be complicated. Small actions like turning off the lights or using a reusable water bottle can make a big difference.

  • According to a recent survey, 75% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase from a company that promotes sustainable practices.

  • The United Nations has identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include things like ending poverty, promoting gender equality, and reducing carbon emissions.


Sustainability is not just a buzzword- it's a way of life that benefits both the planet and its people. By focusing on the 3 elements of sustainability- environmental, social, and economic- we can work towards a more sustainable future. By implementing sustainable practices in our everyday lives and supporting businesses that prioritize sustainability, we can make a real difference in creating a healthier planet for ourselves and future generations.

Our team at Gone Greenish™ is committed to promoting sustainability and healthy living. We encourage you to take small steps towards a more sustainable future and to keep learning about how you can make a positive impact.

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