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Michael Schwartz Library

Students in the Connection Lounge
Michael Schwartz Library

Sustainability Challenge

Introduction to Sustainability

Wanting to be more sustainable is the first step to being an environmentally conscious person. That being said, perfection is unsustainable. There are some issues that change will come slow to you, or maybe not practical for you, due to physical and economic constraints. You don’t have to do all of this to make an impact. If all you can do is one or two of the actions we talk about this week or read some of our recommendations, you’re helping! 

What is Sustainability?

The Triple Bottom Line of Sustainability was developed by John Elkington. It can be framed as either the three Ps (People, Plant, Profit) or the three Es (Ecology, Economy, Equity). Sustainability efforts in schools and businesses often follow this model. Sustainability, removed from academia, was pioneered by Indigenous people taking care of their land and Black activists advocating against environmental racism.

In practice, sustainability efforts look like people with a mutual interest in bettering the environment banding together, whether that be students, ecologists, communities, or professionals. Sustainability looks different for everyone. It's not how we do it that matters, it's taking the first step. If you don't know where to start, this guide serves as an introduction to including sustainability within your day-to-day life.

Northeast Ohio Land Acknowledgement

The land we all currently stand on was displaced from the Haudenosonee and Anishinaabek peoples, who occupied spaces throughout the Great Lakes Region. The Anishinaabek are also known as the Three Fires Council which is comprised of the Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Ottawa. By the end of the 18th century, most tribal villages in Ohio were displaced by white settlements, ultimately ushering in the treaty era. The Treaty of Greenville is recognized as one of the seminal treaties in Ohio leading to the displacement of Indigenous peoples. Ultimately, Indigenous landholdings were reduced and most Native people in Ohio were forcibly removed to pave the way for the colonization of Ohio. Some of these removed tribes are actively working toward land reclamation in Ohio and retaining their culture despite many attempts to eradicate it, including outright genocide to boarding schools to being forced onto reservations. Today, thousands of Indigenous peoples from tribes across the country, and beyond man-made borders throughout the Americas, call Northeast Ohio home and thrive as integral parts of their respective communities. Let us recognize this land we are on in acknowledgment of the Indigenous people who first called present-day Ohio home. 

(Statement prepared by Nancy Kelsey, Cleveland-based columnist and activist.)