When you need a boost of motivation, we hope the following inspirational quotes about sustainability are just what you need.
1. “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” - Peter Drucker
One of our favourite quotes when it comes to sustainability is this one from Peter Drucker, a management consultant, educator and author. What’s amazing about this quote is you could apply it to so many different areas of your life - take ‘the bull by the horns’ and be the change you want to see.
This concept of creating the future is something we live by and a principle that guides our actions and decisions every day.
2. “Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” - Gro Harlem Brundtland
A Norwegian politician, Brundtland is perhaps most widely known for her role as Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report, was the first publication to define sustainable development, a definition that is synonymous with sustainability to this day.
3. “There must be a better way to make the things we want, a way that doesn’t spoil the sky, or the rain or the land.” - Paul McCartney
The English singer, song-writer and musician who is best known as the former frontman for The Beatles is also one of the most well-known vegetarians, having made the switch to a meat-free lifestyle in 1975. McCartney is an activist in a number of areas such as animal cruelty and anti-fracking. His quote beautifully summarises the sustainability approach.
4. “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” - Howard Zinn
American historian, playwright, philosopher, socialist thinker and World War II veteran, Howard Zinn’s quote is another one we like as it inspires us in everyday life. Whether it be on the farm, in our homes, with friends and family or simply being a good citizen - big changes don’t always need big action.
5. “Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations.” - Jean-Paul Richter
Like Zinn, Richter, a 19th-century German novelist, also takes inspiration from everyday life as a way to change and shape the world.
6.“The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.” - Ross Perot
An American business magnate, billionaire, politician and philanthropist, Ross Perot’s inspiring words remind us to not simply identify problems but to be proactive in seeking a solution.
7. “The sustainability revolution will, hopefully, be the third major social and economic turning point in human history, following the Neolithic Revolution – moving from hunter-gathering to farming – and the Industrial Revolution.” - Prince Charles
Prince Charles has been quoted multiple times on his thoughts around farming, in particular organic farming, and sustainability, but this is one of our favourites due to the magnitude of the ambition behind it.
8. “Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.” - Stewart Udall
This quote from a former congressman for Arizona can help shed light on the true need to protect the planet, for without a healthy ecosystem we truly cannot survive.
9. “Only when the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realise that you cannot eat money.” - Cree Indian Proverb
Native to North America, in particular Canada where they form one of the country’s largest First Nations, the Cree Indians’ prophecy reminds us that in many things we do not realise what is happening until it is too late.
10. “21st Century choice: Look after our planet, and it will look after us, or don’t and face the consequences” - Phil Harding
British archaeologist and TV personality Phil Harding lays down a straightforward challenge to us all - the future, and the quality of that future is in our hands today.
11. “Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.” - Henrik Tikkanen
Although this quote from Finland-Swedish author Tikkanen is discussing war, and what conflict means for future generations, it relates perfectly to how we should be thinking about sustainability. Will our children and grandchildren remember us fondly, or curse us for inaction?
12. “Sustainable development is a fundamental break that’s going to reshuffle the entire deck. There are companies today that are going to dominate in the future simply because they understand that.” - Francois-Henri Pinault
One of the largest challenges to sustainability and protecting the planet is that it often comes at the expense of profit - it’s easier for large companies to continue the status quo rather than make changes that benefit everyone. But a growing tidal wave of changing consumer sentiment means that companies that behave ethically and truly prioritise sustainability will become market leaders.
13. “There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.” - Marshall McLuhan
Short, sweet, to the point - we all have a role to play. Some play larger roles than others, but none are insignificant.
14. “We can never have enough of Nature.” - Henry David Thoreau
19th Century American naturalist David Henry Thoreau is spot on with this insight. An acclaimed author, Thoreau made some incredible marks on the world, not least his anticipation of the findings of ecology and environmental history - two sources of environmentalism.
15. “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” - Robert Swan
Hopefully by now you’ve picked up on a pretty common thread amongst these quotes - we all have the ability to do good in this world. In fact, you could go so far as to say we all have a responsibility to do good, just as Robert Swan has done throughout his life as an adventurer and advocate for renewable energy.
16. “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt
Leading the American people through the Great Depression and serving during World War II, FDR had a lifelong interest in the environment and conservation. During his presidency he increased the National Parks and National Forests schemes, helping grow annual visitors from a little over 3 million to nearly 15.5 million in 1939.
17. “Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.” – Dr. Edward O. Wilson
The American biologist, naturalist and writer helps us to understand the deep connection we all have with nature, despite the fact that many of us may have forgotten it. Protecting nature means protecting ourselves.
18. “Sustainability is not just about adopting the latest energy-efficient technologies or turning to renewable sources of power. Sustainability is the responsibility of every individual every day. It is about changing our behaviour and mindset to reduce power and water consumption, thereby helping to control emissions and pollution levels.” - Joe Kaeser
19. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” - George Bernard Shaw
These two brilliant quotes highlight the need for everyday action from ‘ordinary’ people. While technological advances can bring about large-scale change, and renewable energy can help us power our lives for free, the biggest challenge to sustainability is our mindset. Change this and we can change the world.
20. “Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.” - Carl Sagan
We’ve left this one to last as it is perhaps the strongest call to arms on this list. Carl Sagan, spent most of his life sharing his wisdom and insights about the cosmos with audiences across the globe - a life’s work that continues to this day to inspire scientists and educators alike. This remarkable quote should remind us that we are the only ones who can bring about change and it is vitally important to do what we can, whenever we can, to improve and protect this blue marble we call Earth.