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The six stages of Sustainability Enlightenment

Written by
Poppy Stringer
5
min read
January 16, 2023

Environmental sustainability is a journey, and we all have the potential to make a difference. There are many different definitions of sustainability, etymologically it is derived from the Latin word sustinere, which means to support or uphold. In this way we can view environmental sustainability as an approach to supporting our planet, and sustaining life. Sustainability starts with understanding the problem, educating ourselves, and taking action. It's important to remember that every step counts and that we can all make a difference in our own way.

One simple way to think about climate sustainability is to just think about being more responsible.

The six steps, here at SKOOT with think about with our Community which we’ll explain more in this blog:

  1. Stage 1 - Awakening
  2. Stage 2 - Understanding
  3. Stage 3 - Evaluation
  4. Stage 4 - Action
  5. Stage 5 - Advocacy
  6. Stage 6 - Re-evaluation

These stages aren’t linear, and you continue to bounce between the different stages, the most critical part, is understanding it’s a journey, alongside a mindset shift; “it’s your responsibility”.

Stage One: Awakening

The first stage of sustainability enlightenment is awareness. This is recognizing that there is a problem and that it needs to be addressed, understanding the fragility of our environment and the importance of its protection, not just for the present but for the future. There is an Ancient Kenyan Proverb

“Treat the Earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”

Which reminds us that we have a responsibility to future generations to take care of the planet. We have to understand that we are all connected and that our actions have an impact on the environment, economy and society.

Stage Two: Understanding  

The second stage of sustainability enlightenment is gaining an understanding through education. This involves learning about the issue, understanding both its causes and consequences. Education can take place via personal research, reading blogs such as this or reading the environmental news. When gaining understanding it becomes clear and undeniable that the responsibility falls into our hands, there are no more chances, change has to be made. A quote by Robert Swan a polar explorer turned environmentalist;

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”

Illustrates how we all have a role to play in saving the planet and that we cannot rely on others to do it for us.

Stage Three: Evaluation

The third stage of sustainability enlightenment is evaluation, we have to evaluate our personal impact and identity opportunities for improvement. You can calculate your personal carbon footprint with easy accessible online carbon calculators or calculate your business footprint with SKOOT’s carbon calculator.

Understanding your impact is critical, and once that has been identified you can begin to consider how you are going to make changes to you business or life.

Are you going to switch to a more meat free diet, are you going to ensure your Team take more public transport?

Dr Jane Goodhall, founder of the Roots and Shoots programme and named a UN messenger of peace, said;  

"You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make,"

This quote reminds us that every action we take has an impact and that we have the power to decide what kind of impact this is.

Stage Four: Action

The fourth stage of sustainability enlightenment is action. This is implementing changes in one's own life, such as traveling less by car, eating sustainably sourced food, or offsetting the existing footprint with tree planting. It’s the everyday changes that make the big difference, said by Dr Godhall once again

"Every single thing we do makes a difference. Every single thing,"

which  reminds us that every action, no matter how small, can make a difference.

Stage 5: Advocacy

The fifth stage of sustainability enlightenment is advocacy, once you have gained all your knowledge you naturally become an advocate for the cause.  This involves sharing the information you have learnt, motivating others to take action. It's about using our voice to make a difference and encouraging others to do the same.

Stage 6: Re-evaluation

The sixth stage of sustainability enlightenment is continual improvement. Continually reassessing and improving our actions and continuing to inspire others to do the same. This is continuously reassessing and improving one's actions and encouraging others to do the same. Even when the first five stages have been completed the journey never ends and that we can always do better. There is a popular chinese proverb;

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now,"

This quote reminds us that it's never too late to start making a difference and that we should always strive to do better.

We are all on a journey to environmental sustainability and it is never too late to start.

Poppy Stringer

Our eco-conscious blog writer. Passionate about sustainability, she's on a mission to combat ecosystem decline with insightful blogs, driven by her concern for the planet's future.