What are Sustainable Values?

Welcome from SakuLab!

SakuLab is a company that aims to facilitate the exchange of sustainable solutions (products and technologies) between Japan and New Zealand. We are focused on three main areas: Lifestyle, Environment and Health.

In this blog series we aim to pass on tips and information on how to live a more sustainable life, and also to share news on development of sustainable products and solutions with our readers.

What is sustainable development and why is it important?

Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Basically, we believe it is our responsibility to protect our planet so that it can continue to provide for us and our children, and to maintain a world and society which is abundant, healthy and beautiful for all.

Human ‘progress’ has caused the depletion of natural resources, rapid population increase, and industrialization with pollution and destruction of the environment, activities which are not sustainable.  

Adopting sustainable values means rethinking the way we live and behave as a society, in order to embrace a lifestyle that can be sustained for generations to come, and also to help address some of the problems we have created.

So, what are some of the big problems we face, as a society?

In September 2015, the United Nations set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The purpose of these goals is to help countries end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved by 2030.

 

As a country, New Zealand faces many sustainability challenges: the impact of climate change on the environment, unsustainable use of natural resources in NZ, protection, and management of conservation land and waters that are special to New Zealand, pollution of lakes and seas, protection and management of native animals and plants.

Before thinking about the solutions to these problems, it is useful to consider how New Zealanders feel about the key issues.

How do New Zealanders feel about sustainable development?

A 2017 report found that 896,000 adult Kiwis, or about one in five people, have heard of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations.

Although “Clean Water and Sanitation" was perceived as the most important goal overall, when asked specifically which single goal is most important for New Zealand to achieve, “Eliminating Poverty” was deemed the number one priority, as it was in 2016.

The need for “Climate action” has increased in importance compared to last year, but the rest of the environmental goals are still superseded by the social areas.

Which SDGs Matter Most to New Zealanders. Figure: Adapted from “Better Futures Report (2017) Colmar Brunton. ” Those who said at least one goal was important (n=917): Which goal do you think is the most important for NZ to be achieving?

New Zealanders’ top areas of concern reflect a social and environmental focus on sustainability. In the Top 10 concerns for 2017, four newly induced factors include: suicide rates, build-up of plastic, cleaning up of waterways, and substance addiction.

Top 10 Concerns for New Zealanders. Figure: Adapted from “Better Futures Report (2017) Colmar Brunton. Bases (n=1000): Please indicate how concerned you are about these issues.

Actions New Zealanders are taking to be More Sustainable

When asked “what key actions you are personally taking, most or all of the time to be more sustainable” New Zealanders responded as follows:

Key Actions towards Sustainability. Figure: Adapted from “Better Futures Report (2017) Colmar Brunton. Bases (n=1000): How often do you personally...

Conclusions

Although there is room for improvement, it is clear that the majority of New Zealanders are aware of the environmental problems that exist and care greatly about sustainable values.  

However, these sentiments are likely to be impacted by competing priorities, related to social and economic factors. In other words, New Zealanders make trade-offs between values. For example, 80% of New Zealanders still choose to buy products because of the price, even for those who are committed to a sustainable lifestyle (Colmar Brunton, 2017).

Thus, when environmentally positive solutions are affordable and also help simultaneously address social concerns by creating a society which is also safe, peaceful, and prosperous - this is ideal. Building a stronger-community around solutions which simultaneously addresses social, economic and environmental problems might act as a winning trifecta.*

Have you heard of the “5Rs of ‘sustainable living’… ? Our next article will focus on this simple framework which can help you put sustainable living into practice.