Can “Sustainability” be visualized?

Can the concept of “sustainability” be visualized.

The Guardian newspaper in collaboration with Getty Images have tried to pick a series of images that visualize the concept of sustainability. Have they been successful?

Sustainability is an idea that is gaining widespread usage, widespread support and also widespread criticism as being somewhat meaningless – a plastic concept that everyone can turn to their own use say the critics. There is little doubt that concepts and ideas gain more support if they can be visualized and this is the attempt being made here.

The success of this series of images lies in the breadth of the issues that have been included. From the slightly surreal image shown here – which we can interpret in many different ways – to more standard (and therefore less powerful) images of power saving bulbs and drawings of greener cities, the images selected show that sustainability can affect many aspects of our lives.

But maybe the most interesting aspect of this series is the focus on people. Although many still associate sustainability with ‘nature’ and ‘the planet’, it is, in fact, all about people. From images of “humans coming together to connect with the Earth to survive” (image below) to images of human vulnerability to a rather amusing take on ‘environmental conversation’, people are at the center of this collection of images.

It is time that we shifted our focus from ‘nature’ to people. If you are interested in finding out more about this idea, here is a short article.

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