Sustainability has become a common word in the last decade. Widely used in meetings and conversations across the corporate landscape, it has become a by-word for a caring, brighter future. Organisations have embraced it as a differentiator to enhance reputations and give good PR.
But what does sustainability actually mean?
Most associate the word with ‘being green’; recycling stuff properly and not leaving all the lights on all the time. Some have even gone a step further and started compost heaps or cycling to work. In part this is correct, as the environment is probably the most important factor in the concept of sustainability, but it is only part of the picture.
The true nature of sustainability is that it is three pronged. Sitting alongside ‘environmental’ are ‘social’ and ‘economic’.
‘Social’ refers to people and communities. Well-being, health, goodwill, culture, team-work. All these things are a crucial part of the concept. People should be content and working together for the greater good for sustainability to work properly. To do this they must be nurtured, helped and cared for.
‘Economic’ essentially refers to profit. If the environmental and social elements are catered for, then the theory is that the economic side of things takes care of itself and results in profits.
This is admittedly a very simplified and brief overview of what sustainability is, however the key question is this, will it endure?
Well, if you look at what sustainability actually is, then it appears to make very good common sense. It basically espouses that if we look after our environment and our people, then the economic benefits should automatically follow.
Key to its success is that it does not become just another fad or movement that becomes unfashionable in a few years and consigned to history. It needs to be encouraged, taught and practiced by everyone so that it goes from being a buzz-word to something we all do.
Is sustainability sustainable? Well the good news is that a lot of businesses seem to be doing it already, whether they realise it or not.
Click here to see an example of our sustainability related work.