What is the Difference Between Micro-Level Sustainability and Macro-Level Sustainability?

Caterina Sullivan
2 min readOct 9, 2018


There are so many ways to analyse sustainability. Sustainability can be looked at through the lens of economic, social or environmental or the interconnectedness of those levels of analysis.

Sustainability can also be looked at on a micro-level and a macro-level. But what do these levels actually mean?

Similar to their economic counterparts, microsustainability focuses on sustainability at the individual, household or company level. Macrosustainability focuses on sustainability at the national, regional or international level.

It is important to understand how one affects the other and vice versa, especially in order to see real change within our society.

Microsustainability affects macrosustainability through the small actions of individuals and businesses around the world. If 50% of small businesses in Australia signed up to running off 100% renewables, there would be a shift in the clean energy economy on a macrosustainable level. Similarly, if 10% of large corporates around the world decided to eradicate completely slave labour from their supply chain, it would make an incredible impact on rates of unpaid or underpaid work internationally.

Macrosustainability affects microsustainability through changes in government policy and international conventions. One of the greatest macrosustainability shifts in the past 5 years was the signing of the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development by all 193 countries in September 2015. This created a shift in macrosustainability which encouraged many individuals and businesses to make changes in their own practices.

As a business, how can you start shifting from microsustainable impact to macrosustainable impact?

The first step is the supply chain. By making changes to the criteria you have for your suppliers to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, you will be putting pressure on those suppliers to put pressure on their suppliers, which starts to create a ripple effect on a local, national and international scale.

Secondly, you can start becoming an active voice in the community for certain practices. For example, if you provide plastic bags in your store, you could start charging for them to encourage customers to bring recyclable bags from home. You could then write to your federal member in parliament to tell them about what you are doing (and maybe even encourage other local business owners to do the same) to see policy change at a macro level in Parliament.

In reporting the sustainability practices of your organisation, it is incredibly important to understand the difference between microsustainability and macrosustainability and the impact your organisation has on both of these aspects.

To find out more information about microsustainability vs macrosustainability and how your organisation is contributing to each, contact us today!

This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.



Caterina Sullivan

Chief Executive | Business Founder | Change Agent | Inspirational Leader | High Achiever | Role Model | Award-Winner