As some might say our planet is dying and sustainability is the only savior, others believe the ecological downturn we're going through requires a full regeneration of our natural resources. One thing is obvious, though, and it's that to this moment, the world's attempt at achieving sustainability is promised to be sustainable.
Sustainability can be defined as "a form of intergenerational ethics in which the environmental and economic actions taken by present persons do not diminish the opportunities of future persons to enjoy similar levels of wealth, utility, or welfare."
Nowadays, the world is aiming at achieving sustainable development goals in all sectors, including agriculture, furniture manufacturing, packaging, and retail fashion. This shift is associated with long-term economic growth and minimal ecological damage. It is estimated that countries can save up to $26 trillion in the next decade by relying on sustainable resources. (What we're waiting for, though, is for policymakers to take this matter more seriously.)
Recently, multiple players in the fashion industry have switched to sustainable manufacturing where synthetic fibers were replaced by natural ones. Sustainable fashion focuses on the entire supply chain of the final product rather than just using plant-based materials like bamboo.
While the tall, woody grass is revolutionizing fashion in a way to help clothes last longer all while having a gentle impact on the environment, the process of harvesting bamboo and then producing goods with it is what "sustainability" is about.
"Sustainable fashion takes into account the entire supply chain and life cycle of a garment, from where and how it is made to when it ends up in our landfills. It is important for consumers to think about how their purchase affects the environment, the lifecycle of their garment, and how to invest in clothes that last longer," Megan Eddings, Founder and CEO of Accel Lifestyle, said in a Forbes interview.
Nowadays, various industries are using bamboo in the manufacturing of products like bedsheets, furniture, and packaging.
IKEA, the Swedish furniture store, has made sustainability commitments in all its chains. The company partnered with circular economy advocate Ellen MacArthur Foundation to help it become a circular business by 2030.
"A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life," as described by UK charity WRAP.
According to IKEA's head of circular design Malin Nordin, the company is trying to grow its business within the limits of the planet through redesigning its products using circular principles. This shift in business is supposed to allow customers to prolong the life of their furniture by reusing them — a feature that has been proven especially necessary during the three-month period of lockdown everyone found themselves in throughout the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's a big shift and I would say that it also becomes even more important, and we want to accelerate the shift – especially in terms of the situation we are now in, in terms of the pandemic," said Nordin.
A more regional example of sustainability, particularly the protection of marine life, can be found in Lebanon. Non-governmental organization Operation Big Blue (OBB) is executing a 2030 beach plan that aims at protecting marine and aquatic biodiversity through sustainable activities that ensure the coexistence of humans and the biosphere.
Activities like Adopt a Beach Campaign help monitor the Lebanese natural environment through understanding it more and keeping it clean.
"This campaign is a sustainable one since it ensures that our biodiversity is protected for future generations and we also ensure that our beaches are well managed to help humans enjoy the beach while protecting wildlife on it for the long run," said Tarek Dbaibo, Head of Youth Volunteers at OBB.
Although the transition to sustainability is relatively slow, the progress is proven to be effective. However, some might say it's not enough, especially with global warming threatening the lives of billions. That's why it's a necessity for policymakers worldwide to "price carbon, roll back fossil fuel subsidies (and other policies that impede sustainability), invest in sustainable infrastructure, harness the private sector, and protect vulnerable communities."