Sustainability means long-term health and vitality - economic, environmental, and social/cultural. It points toward a new way of thinking about how we live, about where our past has brought us, and about what kinds of progress we need and want to make in the future. Sustainability is about finding new ways of doing things that can both solve problems and improve our quality of life, both now and in the future


Here are some definitions of sustainability:

Sustainability is equity over time ... think of it as extending the golden rule through time .. Do unto future generations as you would have them do unto you. Robert Gilman, Context Institute

Sustainable development is economic growth that will benefit present and future generations without detrimentally affecting the resources or biological systems of the planet. President's Council on Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. WCED "Our Common Future"

(The Brundtland Report)

Sustainability is a new way of thinking about an age-old concern: ensuring that our children and grandchildren inherit a tomorrow that is at least as good as today, preferably better. We want to make sure that the way we live our lives is sustainable - that it can continue and keep improving for a long, long time. Sustainable Seattle

Web Sites

Web Sites for More Information on Sustainability


Developed by EPA Region 10, this is an excellent educational tool for individuals and groups working to equitably integrate environmental protection, a healthy economy, and livable communities in any location.


Sustainable Measures works with communities, companies, regional organizations, and government agencies at all levels. The site offers free training materials, a searchable database of indicators, explanations of indicators and sustainability, a list of online and print resources, and answers to frequently asked questions about indicators and sustainability.


A Canadian-based site the SD Gateway integrates on-line information developed by members of the Sustainable Development Communications Network. In addition to over 1,200 documents available in SD topics, it provides services such as a calendar of events, job bank, Sustainability Web Ring, roster of mailing lists(listservs), and news sites dealing with sustainable development.

Ecological Footprint

In order to live, people consume what nature offers. So, every one of us has an impact on our planet. This is not bad as long as we don't take more from the Earth than it has to offer. But are we taking more than we should? The Ecological Footprint measures what we consume of nature.

The Ecological Footprint is a tool that can help us see a little more clearly our effect on our planet.

It includes the land used to supply all our energy needs; the land used by all the roads, buildings, parking lots, etc. that we depend on; land used to grow our food; forest land providing us with wood and paper; and land necessary to dispose of our waste.

How big is your footprint? The average American uses 30 acres to support his or her current lifestyle. This corresponds to the size of 30 football fields put together. In comparison, the average Canadian lives on a footprint one third less, and the average Italian on 55 percent less.

Could everyone on the planet live like North Americans do today? Nature provides an average of five acres of bioproductive space for every person in the world. With a global population of 10 billion for the year 2050, the available space will be reduced to three acres. This should also give room for the 25 million other species. Already, humanity's footprint may be over 30 percent larger than what the world has to offer, as it consumes more than what nature can provide.

What is your ecological footprint? Here are some sites that you can use to illustrate your own impact and help you understand what the impact of your neighborhood might be.

We invite you to calculate a rough estimate of your ecological footprint by answering 30 easy questions. You can calculate your footprint on the Web or, if you want to map your footprint in more detail, and are willing to track your consumption for a month or even longer, you can download our most recent household calculation spreadsheet

This site applies the ecological footprint idea to a Kansas City neighborhood.