Breaking Down Sustainability – One Term at A Time
As we all know, sustainability is a popular topic right now, and for all the right reasons! Whether you’re passionate about sustainability or not, chances are that you’ve heard of the term, and if you’re here, reading this blog today, you definitely have heard of the term. With sustainability being such a buzzword today, we keep hearing it all the time – through social media, through brands, through people. The term has also thrown light on other related terms that fall onto the same spectrum. Sounds complicated? It really isn’t. Think of sustainability as a tree with multiple branches – all shaped differently but still linked together.
To break this down better, let’s understand a few terms that may have seen or heard us mention that fall under the spectrum of sustainability. Think of it as a basic guide for otherwise confusing jargons, shaped into easy, digestible points.
Let’s start with the word itself – sustainability. Since sustainability as a term is so subjective, there are a number of different definitions of the jargon, but looking at the word etymologically, to ‘sustain’ means to keep something going. In this way, we can view sustainability as an approach to sustaining life by supporting the planet. Thinking about sustainability in a more practical sense, it can be defined as any action or process we perform that causes little or no harm to the natural world or the environment. It’s all about finding ways to meet the demands of life without causing harm to the environment, society or compromising future generations.
There is no right or wrong way to go about being more sustainable, which is also the beauty of the concept.
If you’re familiar with the term ‘sustainable living’, you’re probably familiar with the phrase ‘conscious living’ as well. In simple words, ‘conscious living’ translates into living consciously rather than drifting along passively – being aware of your actions and mindful of your decisions. When linked to sustainability, the term means incorporating practices in our everyday lives that do not harm the environment, the planet, and others around us. Everything – from what we buy, to what we wear to what we consume falls into this category. To be conscious means to be more aware of how our actions would affect the planet and opting for practices and products that wouldn’t harm the planet.
Ethics or being ethical can be most simply described as a person’s morals and sense of right and wrong. In sustainability, being ethical means opting for practices while considering their connections with other humans, the environment, and future generations. For a conscious brand – being ethical may include making sure their laborers are treated and paid well and are provided with decent working environments, as well as being ethical and responsible in their productions. For consumers, it could mean consuming and disposing off responsibly. Being ethical may not always be the easiest option but in the long run, the impact will always be more positive and will do more for the greater good.
One of the things that we often mention when we talk about our products is how they are 100% recycled and made from pre-consumer paper waste. Let’s understand this concept better. Simply put, to recycle is to collect and process materials that would otherwise go to waste and turn them into new products. Similarly, recycled products are products that are made using recyclable materials. Recycling has a number of benefits – it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, it prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials and it also saves energy. Recycling falls under the category of the famous three R’s and is an effective way to produce and consume mindfully.
This is another term that we use when talking about our products and packaging. Composting is a natural process by which any organic material or natural products are broken down by naturally occurring bacteria and fungus in the soil to form compost. The resulting material, compost, is a nutrient-rich soil amendment that looks a lot like soil itself! Composting can be successful in almost any setting, from indoor bins in houses to outdoor piles in backyards. Compostable products can break down and be disposed of in a way that is far kinder to the surroundings than products that cannot be composted. Compostable products require less carbon to produce, provide the earth with nutrients and significantly reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. As they say, a little waste goes a long way!
Would you say you have a better grasp on these terms now? Breaking these terms down and delving into them deeper will also help us make more informed decisions and choose more mindfully. ☺ The next time we shop, let’s try and identify which of these terms apply to the products we’re looking to buy – a simple exercise that will lead to a big impact!