For me sustainability means Forethought… Fulfillment of needs (first) and desires (second) with consciousness of that fulfillment’s true impact and cost. In a sustainable system every player and every part must be considered in context of the Whole of which it is part.
It is my belief that the present civilization has everything it needs for ALL to live in sustainable abundance. The appearance of scarcity and lack are not Actuality but a reality based in horrific mismanagement and parasitic mentalities. It is accepted practice for an individual to seek out the greatest material gain regardless of larger imbalances; regardless of the risk, expense, and short fall to any other organism. Yet the economy of any organism/organized system is very much the corner stone to the sort of energetic dignity the organism maintains. (Think – root law of Cause and Effect necessitating Awareness of action and energy exchanged; economy is energy exchange; the quality of the harvest reflects the quality of the cultivation.) An economy of hording and greed propagates a reality of shortage, depletion, and extinction. An economy of Awareness and sustainability, based on Wholes instead of parts, creates sufficiency, refinement, and renewal.
Thus I feel that in our quest for sustainability, personal and collective economy will require refinement and redirection. Sustainability is greatly facilitated by eradicating the consumer mentality which values production and consumption above responsibility and true quality of Life. As our consciousness of Resources increases, so will our sustainable state.
(Note: I define Resources as the goods and services of both Nature and Humanity.)