Eco-Living Magazine

Defining Sustainability and Sustainable Development

Posted on the 25 April 2013 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev
Open Letter

This is an open letter to any and all companies, organizations, governments, schools, or other miscellaneous groups considering sustainability as part of their work; I hope this includes everyone.

Dear Organization X,

Please consider making sustainability a central component of your future plans if you have not done so already. For any group that has sustainability as part of their current or future mission, directive, or plan, please define it. Sustainability apparently has very different meanings for different people or groups of people. While it might be nice to have a universal definition, that seems to be out of the question at this point. However, there are interpretations of sustainability that seemingly have little or nothing to do with the notion of sustaining life in perpetuity; sustainability has been hijacked.

There ought to be a few commonalities when referring to sustainability. Just making up any ol’ definition will not suffice. Saying something is sustainable because it is the buzzword du jour is not acceptable. Building a new “green building” on the site of a building that is only a few years old and “needs” to be demolished because it doesn’t align with the neighboring building’s floor plan does not represent a case of sustainable design.

The point is: be clear about what sustainability is and perhaps as importantly what it isn’t. For example, oil and gas companies calling their business sustainable rings hollow, especially when the word is thrown around without defining it. Thanks.


All of us who are your customers and fellow inhabitants on this blue marble hurtling through space.

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