My favorite published definition of sustainability so far is Paul Hawkin’s definition from the Ecology of Commerce, because of his Child friendly inclusion of the economic golden rule, “Sustainability is an economic state where the demands placed upon the environment by people and commerce can be met without reducing the capacity of the environment to provide for future generations. It can also be expressed in the simple terms of an economic golden rule for the restorative economy: leave the world better than you found it, take no more than you need, try not to harm life of the environment, make amends if you do.”
This Economic Golden Rule is so important to Shelby County because we have the largest population of children in the State of Tennessee. At the same time, we are the leader in the 50 largest cities in the U.S. with the highest poverty rate. Poverty is an economic condition foisted upon children without their consent and which has lifelong ramifications for their well-being and success.
The economic future of our community is dependent on the actions that we take now. This is why I am excited about the process that Sustainable Shelby has undertaken to incorporate recycling, weatherization, tree planting and green jobs into our community’s conversation about growth and its future.
The county that we leave will be inherited by a new generation that must value all of its citizenry. A society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. By investing now in sustainability, we are teaching our children and future generations the value of our local resources like land, light, air and water.