Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sustainable This and Sustainable That

A recent triple bottom line Google Alert I've set up led me to a blog about "Sustainable Museums." Additionally, the sponsored links (advertisements) on the email had a promotion for "Sustainable Post-it Notes" and another one for "Sustainable Jobs."

I'm not trying to disparage these folks though do you see the problem here?

Before some public speaking events I've been introduced as the founder of TriLibrium, a "sustainable" CPA firm.

Can a business or organization be sustainable inside an unsustainable culture? Are there sustainable jobs in an unsustainable civilization?

Because I'm a stickler for precise language when it matters, I've had to correct the well-meaning introduction calling TriLibrium sustainable. TriLibrium is sustainably-driven and eco-conscious but I have no idea whether we are sustainable.

I've heard people refer to certain farming practices as sustainable. Really? Over what time frame and under what circumstances. Will these "sustainable" farms hold up over 5 generations? What about 500 or 1000? If not, are they really "sustainable?"

I'm sick of hearing "sustainable" used as if it is a condition already achieved. We should all be driven towards sustainability since the problems with unsustainable practices will certainly wreck havoc on us and our offspring. However, I don't think anything inside our current system is "sustainable" since our cultural system clearly isn't.

I hope you'll join me in educating all the companies who call their products or services sustainable.

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