Sustainable Thriving

When our lives and our livelihoods are in harmony with nature, everyone wins.

What is Sustainable Thriving?

Earthville PlanetSustainable thriving is a state in which all people, all species, and the planet we share not only survive but also flourish harmoniously — and not just for a short period but over the long term.

Sustainable thriving is a model for cultivating shared prosperity while preserving ecological balance and nurturing what philosophy refers to as human flourishing (or Eudaimonia in Greek) in a way that also supports all other life on earth to flourish. Put simply: happy and healthy person, happy and healthy public, and happy and healthy planet.

Earthville envisions a world in which sustainable thriving is the norm — the rule rather than the exception. And we truly believe we can get there if enough of us make the effort — and the effort is worthwhile even if we only make it partway there.

Sustainable Living vs. Sustainable Thriving

Many people are familiar with the term “sustainable living.” Why does Earthville use “sustainable thriving” instead?

We coined the term “sustainable thriving” because we found no other term that adequately expressed this state of harmonious flourishing, which we see as vital to the long-term well-being of our world.

It’s one thing to live, and another to thrive. Thriving is not only living, but living well, prospering, flourishing. This is an important distinction because some people assume that living sustainably means giving up prosperity, and all the comforts, conveniences and joys that go with it.

For example, for many people, the term “sustainable living” conjures images of straw huts and solar panels. And, for some people, that is indeed more or less what it looks like (and of course there’s nothing wrong with that), but there are also a great many other ways to live sustainably, and some of them are, arguably, the ultimate in luxury. Still, worldwide, there remains a persistent misconception of “sustainable living” as the furthest thing from comfort and convenience. Most people desire comfort and convenience, so to them this (narrow) idea of sustainable living is unappealing. So we use a different (more accurate) term to steer clear of that confusion and help people understand what we’re talking about.

Another important issue is business. The movement for “sustainable living” is construed by some people as being incompatible with prosperous business, or even antagonistic to it. But in reality that’s just the other side of the coin of the cynical zero-sum-game mentality, which holds that in life there are winners and losers, and for sustainability to win, business automatically would have to lose (and therefore, the false logic argues, business automatically should be against the sustainability movement). Fortunately, that perception has no basis in fact, and there are now innumerable real-world examples that prove the opposite — successful responsible businesses that prosper even more because of their sustainable practices. Clearly, with a bit of creativity followed up with some sweat, it is possible to create a win-win world in which business prospers, people prosper, and the planet prospers. In the field of responsible business, this is referred to as the “triple bottom line” of private, public, and planetary profit.

So here’s a question for our times: When we now know it is possible to create a win-win world in which everyone prospers, what would be the reason not to do that?

Earthville’s view is that, now that we as a species have developed the capacity to achieve sustainable thriving, both common sense and basic decency dictate that it is our natural responsibility to do so. The benefits of sustainable thriving are too great to pass up, and the consequences of not pursuing sustainable thriving with our greatest diligence are too grave to ignore.

Further Explorations of Sustainable Thriving

For a more in-depth look at sustainable thriving, continue to the next article in the series, A Closer Look: Defining Six Aspects of Sustainable Thriving.

How do we get there from here? See our articles, Win-Win Solutions for a Flourishing World and How to Change the World in Four Easy Steps.

Ready for action? Get involved in the Sustainable Thriving Alliance.

And don’t miss the Earthville Planet section of our website, where we put these ideals into practice.


What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts, experiences, or questions in the comments section below.

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