Sustainability: What’s In A Word?

Sustainability?

Sustainability? (Photo credit: Tom Raftery)

Presuming our readers are of the variety that keeps up with recent articles in the green ideological sphere, we would like to address a current trending topic – the integrity of “sustainability.”

If you have browsed green articles in the past several days, chances are pretty good you’ve come across an article or two pertaining to the banning of the term “sustainability.”  It is important to understand the motives behind those views, before supporting or dismissing them, and further, it becomes crucial that we alter our approach to understanding modern-day uses of the term.

Looking briefly back in time, first came the term “Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR), and then alongside it rode in “sustainability.”  Focus was first placed on the meanings behind these terms, to take an analytical look at current business practices’ impacts on the environment and the masses in order to determine policy changes that could better the sustainability and longevity of the business, as well as the environment, within which it operates.  Very well.  However, over time, this view on the matter has almost completely deteriorated from a point of forward-looking, voluntary initiatives to its current mess of fashionable, mandatory bragging rights.

The main issue with sustainability?

It has become corporate prerogative to assemble corporate social and sustainability programs or plans as a means of current comparison with outside competitors, rather than as a means of examination and implementation for future betterment inside the corporation.  Likewise, these terms have been thrown around the world of politics, too, with little or nothing to show for it.  Sure, there have been some new mandates and a couple new proposals, but the essence behind these has not been that of driven change.  It has been used as yet another tool by which politicians can gain acclaim, another platform piece upon which some may choose to run.  What a shame.

Needless to say, with this deterioration of the views surrounding and motives behind these practices, the integrity these practices and terms hold depreciates.  It makes the everyday consumer’s job a bit more difficult.  Now, we must be wary of all that we read and hear.  Simply put, approach each public issuance of these terms with caution, place a bit of research into the root of their use, and conclude whether the issuer is taking legitimate initiative to change the bad or badly issuing socially charged terms to gain corporate or political prowess among competition.

For more information on how and why sustainability should be used, I recommend a simple article by Adam Aston, which can be found here.  In it, he outlines the benefits of legitimate sustainability planning.

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