sustainability quotes

Being an environmentalist is hard. The news is mostly doom and gloom, there’s a general sense of apathy coming from environmental leaders, and we’re stretched thin between other demands. Fortunately, just five minutes of your time can reframe your approach and remind you why this planet is worth protecting. 

That said, here’s 35 amazing sustainability quotes from some of the world’s most inspirational, committed, and connected environmental thinkers. 

  1. “What I stand for is what I stand on.” — Wendell Berry
  2. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” — Henry David Thoreau
  3. “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe
  4. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” — Michael Pollan
  5. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw
  6. “The conspicuous consumption of limited resources has yet to be accepted widely as a spiritual error, or even bad manners.” — Barbara Kingsolver
  7. “Biological diversity is messy. It walks, it crawls, it swims, it swoops, it buzzes. But extinction is silent, and it has no voice other than our own.” — Paul Hawken
  8. “There is a tendency at every important but difficult crossroad to pretend that it’s not really there.” — Bill McKibben
  9. “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, they paved paradise, put up a parking lot.” — Joni Mitchell 
  10. “Real change occurs from the bottom up; it occurs from person to person, and it almost always occurs in small groups and locales and then bubbles up and aggregates to larger vectors of change.” — Paul Hawken
  11. “When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.” — Alanis Obomsawin
  12. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” — Dr. Seuss, The Lorax 
  13. “Learn to do common things uncommonly well; we must always keep in mind that anything that helps full the dinner pail is valuable.” — George Washington Carver
  14. “I do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation. I believe if you just do your little bit without thinking of the bigness of what you stand against, if you turn to the enlargement of your own capacities, just that itself creates new potential.” — Vandana Shiva
  15. “When we work with nature instead of trying to impose our will, the solution is often found within the problem.” — David Holmgren 
  16. “Sitting at our back door steps, all we need to live a good life lies about us. Sun, wind, people, buildings, stones, sea, birds and plants around us. Cooperation with all of these things brings harmony, opposition to them brings disaster and chaos.” — Bill Mollison
  17. “My message is that we’ll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for help. How dare you. You’ve stolen my dreams in my childhood with your empty words. Yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering.” — Greta Thunberg
  18. “All the human and animal manure which the world wastes, if returned to the land, instead of being thrown into the sea, would suffice to nourish the world.” — Victor Hugo
  19. “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on Earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of those sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.” — Naomi Klein
  20. “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” — Epicurus
  21. “I do not particularly like the word ‘work.’ Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world. Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life. For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.” — Masanobu Fukuoka
  22. “The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say ‘yes, yes we did.’” — Barack Obama
  23. “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” — Paulo Coelho
  24. “Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder.” — Wangari Maathai
  25. “Look after the land and the land will look after you, destroy the land and it will destroy you.” — Aboriginal Proverb
  26. “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching—even when doing the wrong thing is legal.” — Aldo Leopold
  27. “Treat the Earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” — Ancient Indian Proverb
  28. “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” — Rachel Carson
  29. “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
  30. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
  31. “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall
  32. “It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” — Sir David Attenborough
  33. “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” — John Muir
  34. “We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.” — David Suzuki
  35. “You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.” — E.O. Wilson


These are just some of the many inspiring sustainability quotes out there. We’d love to keep adding to this list, so please share your favorite quotes that keep you inspired in the comments below!


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