What Does It Really Mean When We Call Something “Sustainable”?

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What Does It Really Mean When We Call Something “Sustainable”?

And should we stop?
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READ: What does it really mean to call something #sustainable? And should we stop? @Craille asks @erbinstitute @HoffmanAndy to weigh in! @FashionCanada http://myumi.ch/L4ElM #climatechange
Monday, October 29, 2018 - 11:40am

Think of all the terms that have cropped up over the past several decades or so to describe the environmental movement. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Low footprint. Zero footprint. Zero waste. Going green. (NB: not the same as “going clear.”) Eco-friendly. Eco-chic. Eco-anything. In fact, the latter has become so prevalent that you can register a website with the suffix .eco.

Words have always been a big part of the environmental movement, and it’s no wonder why: It’s a movement that depends on communicating complex science in a way that will inspire people to change their behaviour. As the mainstream awoke to the ecological impact of their lifestyle choices, brands twigged to the idea that they could slap the word “green” on what they were hawking and call it a day. Along with all of this came, perhaps inevitably, “greenwashing,” a term introduced by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in the mid-1980s to describe the misleading techniques some brands used to market their products as more environmentally friendly than perhaps they were.

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Keywords: Sustainable Development Goals | Business Ethics | Climate Action | Craille Macguire Gillies | Environment | Erb Institute | Fashion Magazine | Media & Communications | Sustainability | Sustainable Development Goals | university of michigan