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This guide has information for building a more sustainable life and provides resources for exploring sustainability in the field.

What is Sustainability?


Sustainability, otherwise known as sustainable development, is defined by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development to be "development that meets the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

In order to fully understand what this means, it can be helpful to apply this principle of sustainable development into the contexts of the three pillars of sustainability: social, environment, and economic. In order for sustainable development to be effective, one must find solutions that are ecologically sound, socially equitable, and economically viable. Learn more about the history the three pillars in Purvis, Mao, and Robinson's 2017 open access article.


Purvis, B., Mao, Y. & Robinson, D (2019). Three pillars of sustainability: in search of conceptual origins. Sustain Sci. 14, 681–695

World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our common future. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Table of Contents

Foundations of Sustainability

Build your understanding of sustainability, how it's defined, and explore key figures in sustainability.

Realizing Impact:

Explore data visualization tools that show how our habits impact availability of natural resources and change our climate.

Enacting Sustainability:

Connect with the Office of Sustainability to view their recommendations for incorporating sustainability in your life.

Environmentally Sustainable Diets

Explore vegan, vegetarian, and other diets that support sustainability.

Sustainable Landscape Architecture

Connect with the Sustainable Landscape Architecture guide and learn about sustainable design of the built and natural environment. 

Additional Library Resources

Learn how sustainability impacts the blue economy, circular economy, ecology and industrial agroecology, and more.