The concept of sustainability is more popular than ever, and although we hear the words all the time, what does ‘sustainable’ actually mean? Does it concern ecology and the environment? Is it about people and culture or plants and animals, jobs and money? The complicated reality is that sustainability is about all of these things and more.

The term ‘sustainability’ was first used in forestry and in this context describes responsible stewardship of woodlands, where timber is not removed faster than the rate at which it can be regenerated. This definition can still be broadly applied to the world at large, where the ecosystem and its resources struggle to keep pace with the exploitation of materials to create products and our built ...

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