Zach Jones is a senior natural resources planning major.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Too me, sustainability means that a system can continue to function indefinitely without impairing the ability of future generations – of all life, not just humans – to have the same quality of life that we have been able to enjoy. In order to be sustainable, society will have to realize it cannot continue to grow forever and will eventually hit our ecological carrying capacity. A quote by the famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough illustrates one of the fundamental aspects of sustainability and the inability of current economic thought to address this issue: “Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth on a planet with finite resources is either a madman or an economist.”
Why do you think sustainability is important?
Sustainability is the deciding factor of the survival of humanity and countless other species of life on earth. If humans continue to use natural resources and destabilize the climate at the rate we are, the future looks bleak. However, humans have the capabilities to think of our long term future and plan what needs to be done to prevent the collapse of the systems that support us.
In what ways do you practice sustainability in your life?
As much as possible, I try to make conscientious decisions that support people and businesses with a sustainable business model. This includes eating locally, re-using things instead of buying new, biking instead of driving and other lifestyle choices. I am also involved with several organizations that advocate for a more sustainable world and plan events to educate the public and restore ecosystems like 350 Stevens Point, Land Conservation Society, and the Wisconsin Youth Network. I am majoring in natural resources planning with minors in sustainable energy and environmental studies so I can understand how people depend on the environment and how we can plan for a prosperous future within the constraints set by the resources available on earth.
What do you think people in your community should do to be more sustainable?
The choices we make on a daily basis can do a lot to reduce or increase our environmental footprint, but there are a lot of unavoidable parts of living in our capitalist society dominated by consumerism that have a large impact on the environment and humanity. It is our duty as informed humans to educate ourselves and others on the importance of living a sustainable life and to advocate for policies at the local, state and federal level that help promote a just, safe and equitable future. Unfortunately, in central Wisconsin, we get most of our energy from coal and are facing problems like the depletion of groundwater aquifers and drying up of lakes and streams. We can help change this if we use our powerful collective voice to fight for renewable energy and sound science-based natural resource policy.
Environment Sectional Editor