The Vocabulary of Sustainability

Posted by Jane Mitchell on

Most of us want to be more sustainable, even without knowing what it really means.  If I recycle, put out the green bin, wear clothes more than 30 times – am I sustainable?  Am I making a difference?
We recently heard: “The terminology around sustainability is in urgent need of change,” said Achem Steiner, UN Global Compact.
Changing how we talk about sustainability, the photos, videos and visuals we use, our terminology – are all essential as we engage with people in the world around us on the journey to a healthier planet.
A few ideas:
  • Tell stories about people. There are thousands of people doing amazing things to make a difference.  From two surfers from Australia who started Seabin to get plastic out of the ocean to a university student who started Random Acts of Green, to a Canadian farmer, who makes phone covers out of flax waste. The list is growing and the stories are cool and compelling.  People changing their world to create a better one.
  • Let’s come up with a new vocabulary. The current list can be daunting: sustainable, CSR, SDGs, FSC, MSC, circular economy, zero-waste. Find words with a broad appeal that we all understand and can relate to: imagine; regenerative; healthy; fit; restorative; resilient.
  • Better Visuals.  We need inspiring photos, video and visuals.  Images that are inspirational, positive, future focused and that build a sense of community and well-being.
Let’s start a conversation around the terminology of sustainability.

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