What Is Sustainability?

Sustainability has got to be one of the most heavily used buzzwords in today’s culture. Ok, I just checked and apparently, it’s #21 on the Top 50 Business Buzzwords for 2017 according to the Global Language Monitor, one place ahead of “hashtag”. So that’s something.

And now you’re likely curious to see if you’ve been busy using many of the other 48 business buzzwords, so here they are: http://www.languagemonitor.com/category/business-buzzwords/

But back to sustainability and what it means: This now ubiquitous term has been attached to every manner of product from cigarettes to toilet paper and every industry from farming to factories. You may use it in your own business, display it proudly on your website and declare it in staff meetings. Are you using it correctly? Are you getting the full value of the word?

Here’s a visual way to picture sustainability: Imagine that your business or family or group of friends were assigned a fixed geographical space on planet earth in which to live / work / play (ie. to thrive). Could you thrive in this fixed space, inside this “box”, over as many generations as you can imagine? If you can answer yes, congratulations, you have achieved “sustainability”. If not, well you haven’t.

Long ago we had this mastered, we came to this naturally. Now we don’t, but we’re working on it. Right?

So let’s make this applicable to your business. Rather than a fixed geographical area, you get to create your own definition of sustainability that provides the constraints, the “box” that you will operate within. Could you continue to thrive under your current operating conditions over as many generations as you can imagine? Most businesses would say no.

But the good news is that when you take the time to define your own “sustainability box”, you set up constraints that make your business stronger in every sense: economically, culturally and environmentally. Setting bold, relevant and achievable goals can have a dramatic effect on your business and can create a business culture where everyone feels part of something larger.

Here’s the real life inspiration to get you refocused on your “sustainability” journey. How can you apply this way of thinking to your business?

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