Have you noticed how the word 'sustainability' seems to be thrown around everywhere these days? It's on product labels, in advertising campaigns, and even in company mission statements. But what does it really mean? And more importantly, is it being used accurately or is it just another example of greenwashing?
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing is the practice of making misleading or unsubstantiated claims about the environmental benefits of a product or service. It's a way for companies to appear eco-friendly and socially responsible without actually making any significant changes to their practices. And unfortunately, it's becoming all too common.
The Problem with 'Sustainability'
While the word 'sustainability' is meant to convey a commitment to the environment and future generations, it has become a buzzword that is too often used without any real substance behind it. Companies showcase the word 'sustainable' as if it's the top dog of eco-jargon, without providing any evidence to support their claims. And although I have to admit, it has drawn me in many times, I'm falling more out of love with the word the more I see it being misused and unsubstantiated.
Why We Need a New Language
In order to combat greenwashing and ensure that we can make informed choices, we need to move away from vague and overused terms like 'sustainability' and start using more precise language. After all, sustainability comes from the term "to sustain" which means "to maintain" or "to endure". I don't aspire to maintain or endure, I aspire to slow down and have less impact. Let's look beyond claims of sustainability and instead for specific information about how products are good for the environment. This could include details about the materials used, the manufacturing process, and the product's end-of-life disposal. BUT... And it's a big BUT! The key here is to be able to see the entire picture because one part of a product being biodegradable or natural, or ethically sourced, does not make for a sustainable brand.
The Power of Accurate Language
By using more precise language, we can hold each other accountable for environmental claims and encourage each other to make real changes. When we have access to accurate information, we can make informed decisions and support companies that are truly committed to creating a future where our ecosystems are thriving, and not just surviving. The New Year's Resolution at Undo, is to remove word 'sustainable' from our vocabulary in 2024 and instead to be clear and precise about how these products are made, where they come from, and why they are good for the environment.