Sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the earth’s natural resources and personal resources. Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption, and diet. Proponents of sustainable living aim to conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with sustainability, in natural balance and respectful of humanity’s symbiotic relationship with the earth’s natural ecology and cycles. The practice and general philosophy of ecological living is highly interrelated with the overall principles of sustainable development.
Lester R. Brown, a prominent environmentalist and founder of the Worldwatch Institute and Earth Policy Institute, describes sustainable living in the twenty-first century as:
“shifting to a renewable energy–based, reuse/recycle economy with a diversified transport system.”
In addition to this philosophy, practical eco-village builders like Living Villages maintain that the shift to renewable technologies will only be successful if the resultant built environment is attractive to a local culture and can be maintained and adapted as necessary over the generations.
Sustainable living is fundamentally the application of sustainability to lifestyle choice and decisions. One conception of sustainable living expresses what it means in triple-bottom-line terms as meeting present ecological, societal, and economical needs without compromising these factors for future generations. Another broader conception describes sustainable living in terms of four interconnected social domains: economics, ecology, politics and culture. In the first conception, sustainable living can be described as living within the innate carrying capacities defined by these factors. In the second or Circles of Sustainability conception, sustainable living can be described as negotiating the relationships of needs within limits across all the interconnected domains of social life, including consequences for future human generations and non-human species.
Sustainable design and sustainable development are critical factors to sustainable living. Sustainable design encompasses the development of appropriate technology, which is a staple of sustainable living practices. Sustainable development in turn is the use of these technologies in infrastructure. Sustainable architecture and agriculture are the most common examples of this practice.