What is Community Sustainability?

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  • Written By: Rhonda Rivera
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2019
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Community or local sustainability is a broad term that refers to an area designed to efficiently use energy and natural resources while primarily relying on itself. Transportation, housing, and job creation are usually taken into consideration when building a sustainable community. Building a sustainable community most often involves creating a strong local economy that supports local farmers, fishermen, and small businesses. The use of renewable energy coupled with energy conservation to reduce pollution is another common part of community sustainability.

In the planning stage, a sustainability coordinator is usually chosen, along with at least one manager if the project is particularly large. These people are placed in charge of gathering the right government officials and experts to shape and put the plan into action. During the planning stage, the leaders of a community sustainability program usually collect ideas about sustainability that are important to its residents. For example, someone may put forth an idea on how to feed the local homeless people with food grown from a shared garden. Clear goals, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a certain percentage, are also usually outlined.


When practicing community sustainability, residents are often encouraged to support local food producers by purchasing groceries directly from a farmer’s market rather than a large chain retailer. For example, a cooperative food buying program supports the local farmers or fishermen while reducing the community’s reliance on outside sources. In addition, residents may be encouraged to eat healthier by consuming less and purchasing food produced by growers with a relatively low impact on the local and surrounding environment.

Some jurisdictions that practice community sustainability choose to formally educate citizens on environmental matters early on. In this case, children are often encouraged to become environmentally literate and active in their community at a very young age. The same jurisdictions may also offer adult education on related matters, especially on how to become more socially and environmentally responsible while running a farm, fishery, or small business. In addition, cultural education where locals teach and learn about community heritage is sometimes an important part of a community sustainability plan.

Community sustainability can encompass many different aspects of day-to-day living from where food is purchased and what children are taught in school to pollution management. This way of living differs for each community, however. Some communities put an emphasis on spirituality, while others do not even consider spirituality a factor in community sustainability. Generally, the most common aspect is the willingness to be eco-friendly and create a community that can provide for future generations.


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