What is sustainability?

Three elements of sustainability

Sustainability can be defined as any system’s ability to withstand and maintain a healthy, prolonged existence while preventing a harmful impact. Sustainable actions and decisions are those that consider the long-term implications of our decisions rather than merely focusing on the problems of today. They acknowledge social, economic, AND environmental dimensions as equal elements in human civic progress.

Social element

The social element of sustainability addresses issues of social inequality, injustice, worker rights and safety, and changing cultural values. As the world becomes more globally aware of cultural diversity, citizens in diverse cultures absorb values from other cultures. This can cause disruption to traditional practices while simultaneously stimulating thoughtful debate around new ideas.

Economic element

The economic element of sustainability is closely tied to both social values and environmental resources. Consider that we utilize natural resources for just about every aspect of our existence, from shelter to food to transportation and clothing. All trade relies on goods created from those resources.

Our cultural values, both traditional and modern, influence how we use the natural resources in our local and regional environments. If we live in an arid land, we tend to conserve a water resource. If we live by a bountiful sea, we tend to harvest fish without thought of depletion (until there are no more fish…).

How we cultivate and harvest our resources impacts the ability of the resources to reproduce (or not). The technologies and processes we use to transform natural resources may be harmful (toxic), or benign. We have choice – we can choose to steward our natural resources or we can choose to deplete them.

Environmental element

Environmental issues have previously been regarded as lower priority against economic and social issues. As a result, greater conflicts have risen in climate change, deforestation, air and water pollution, and ozone depletion. Our quality of life is bound to reduce over time due to limited, unusable, and, in extreme cases, nonexistent resources. Sustainability is as crucial as economic and social investments if we are to preserve our planet.

What is sustainability

Laura explains sustainability

Sustainable development as a whole, meets society’s current needs, and ensures future needs are met without compromise. When looking into the future, a few sustainable measures to be considered include waste reduction, reusing resources, encouraging biodiversity, and promoting social justice.

  • How might we apply sustainability to our consumer decisions?
  • Do you know the conditions in which your clothing is made?
  • Do you purchase your clothing for one-time wear, or to have forever?
  • Have you thought about the external implications of this purchasing mindset?

Sustainable fashion design at Laura Tanzer

I run a sustainable business.   I’m focused on fair pay, quality construction, and reduction of waste.   In making my garments I typically work from natural fibers in two ways.  First, cottons, linens, and silks with wonderful, sumptuous textures.  Brocades are one example of textured natural fibers.  Second, when I use digital print photography on cottons and silks to make wearable art.

Remnants from garment production are used to create my one-of-a-kind frammento garments.  These garments utilize larger scraps, pieced together and finished to form a truly statement piece.

The smallest pieces are collected and given to local schools for arts and craft projects.

Tour my atelier

Here’s a quick video of my atelier in Downtown Tucson.  I look forward to giving you a personal tour!

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