Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the legitimate needs of the present generation without diminishing the ability of future generations to meet their needs as well.
This “shallow” sustainability usually focuses on making our current systems more sustainable; that is, reforming agricultural, transportation, and energy systems by increasing efficiency and substituting non-sustainable materials and energy with more sustainable alternatives.
For example, this type of sustainability would aim to correct our transportation crisis by creating more efficient cars that use alternative fuels.
Deep Sustainability goes beyond increasing efficiency and substitutions and questions the existing systems altogether.
Deep SustainabilitySM recognizes that there is a difference between doing things right and doing the right thing. Shallow sustainability focuses on doing things right, on the means we use to accomplish an end. Deep Sustainability addresses the ends themselves.
For example, a Deep Sustainability approach to our transportation crisis would focus creating a high quality of life where people are able to meet their needs close to where they live so that the need for automobile transportation is greatly reduced.
The development of sustainable businesses, societies, and communities is dependent upon those entities being comprised of highly developed individuals.
Such development means doing more with less. It means creating a higher quality of life while consuming fewer resources. Sustainability is about creating a thriving world in which we lead rich, productive, and fulfilling lives — without depleting the environment or ourselves.
One resource that appears to be infinitely renewable is the most peaceful level of thought, our own inner consciousness. By functioning from this level, we can live sustainably on all levels of our lives and bring maximum creativity to address the sustainability challenges that we all face. To fully meet our responsibility to current and future generations, we must connect with our own inner nature and take action.