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Sustainability – An introduction

Earth has a deadline and the clock is ticking. We are no strangers to the phenomena – global warming, climate change or greenhouse effect and the climate clock at the Union square displays the time that is left to avert an all-out climate catastrophe. Incidents like Australian and Californian wildfires, Cyclone Idai in Africa, South Asian floods, record-breaking heatwave across Europe, etc., beg the humankind for an immediate action.

As a result of these environmental phenomena, the word ‘sustainability’ has hit the headlines a lot in the recent years. Eco warriors, activists and influencers around the globe have adopted a sustainable lifestyle and are encouraging other people to take the path towards sustainability. Following this trend, several leading brands are striving to get the sustainability tag associated with their brand image.

However, there is still a sense of uncertainty that lingers in our minds about this term, ‘sustainability’. What does sustainability mean? Is it similar to the term eco-friendly or green? Let us dig deep to understand more about sustainability and find out the answers to these questions.

The United Nations Brundtland commission defined sustainability as, “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.” The resources that we have on earth are limited, but the world’s population is steadily raising and is expected to grow more in the future. Increase in population results in an increased demand for – food, fashion, travel, housing, etc.

Connection between Eco-friendly – Green – Sustainable:

Although these words may seem to convey the same context and are technically interchangeable, there are minor variations in their meanings.

1.Eco-friendly basically means products or practices that are environmentally friendly and do not harm the planet.

2.The word Green has eclipsed from symbolising the colour green to referring to environmental conscience. Green refers to incorporating eco-friendly products and practices into a particular setting (Architecture, lifestyle, etc.) to benefit the environment.

3.Sustainability as briefed above is more concerned about the impact on the future.


All sustainable products and practices are green and eco-friendly. But not all green or eco-friendly products are sustainable. For example, a solar panel is considered a green product but, if it requires a lot of energy to manufacture and ship it to you and there is no proper way to dispose the plastic components used in the panel after its lifetime, it is not considered sustainable.

Currently, an increasing number of people are already facing problems to access basic necessities while the other sector of the world’s population is utilising majority of the resources. In a world where resources are depleting fast and the environment is under threat, our lifestyle decisions on food, fashion, travel, etc., are putting the planet at high risk. Hence, leading a sustainable lifestyle means understanding the impact of our choices on the world and its resources and finding ways to compensate the same by shifting to sustainable alternatives to make sure that the future generations are able to meet their needs as well.

Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good.

Jochen Zeitz