How Do You Measure and Define Sustainability?

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Let’s start with further defining sustainability.

The traditional business definition is the triple bottom line – people, planet, profit –  and any good business needs to deliver on all three. I believe these same three values apply to personal life and I apply them in the following ways.

  • People – I value my family and my community. I choose to improve my relationships with people, spending more time on adventure and fun with the people I love.
  • Planet – I value my planet. I choose to reduce my impact and use fewer resources.
  • Profit – I value my money and want to have the financial freedom to enjoy life. I choose to spend less.

I’ve started using an environmental footprint calculator to measure my impacts each year. I recommend this calculator from Global Footprint Network. Here are my results from 2019.

As you can see, my life required 2.5 Earths and an overshoot day of May 24th.

What do these numbers mean? It means that if everyone lived the exact same lifestyle as me, we would need 50% more resources than our Earth can provide. Compare this to the American average of five Earths and I’m feeling good about my progress, but I still have a long way to go to reach my goal of only needing one planet. And overshoot day is the day each year that I begin to use more than my fair share of resources.

This calculator also tells me my biggest areas of impact. Once I know this, I can make better choices in each area, delivering results for the planet while also improving my quality of life (people and profit).

This tool helps me define sustainability for my family and provides an annual snapshot of my progress. Remember that sustainability is a journey and no two footprints will look alike. Your footprint today is the perfect place to start from.

If you’re looking to take the next step on your sustainability journey, I recommend calculating your environmental footprint!

During my small group and 1:1 coaching sessions, I’ve developed a list of frequently asked questions that can be challenging or confusing while working your way through the footprint calculator. I’ve created this free course with my tips for easily and accurately calculating your environmental footprint.

When you calculate your footprint, please share your result and thoughts in the comments. What is your biggest area of impact? Did that surprise you?

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