Defining Sustainability

Going back to the basic. Despite being in the sustainable industry for a few years now, it still seems very hard to define the term sustainability. If you ask 50 industry professionals you will most likely end up getting 50 different answers. The objective of this post is not to define sustainability but simply understand what is means and what it is all about. 

Starting with breaking the common myth, sustainability is not necessarily always around the environment and saving the planet. Yes, it is part of it but it goes much deeper than that. Sustainability has a lot of different areas under its umbrella. The most common terms that you notice is the triple bottom line which is divided within three categories: environmental, social and economic. It is easier to understand that it is not solely about the environment but also about the people and the economic structure. It also ranges from you daily behaviours at home and at work to corporations triple bottom line business practices.

Within the business world, you will come across these three letters CSR. It stands for Corporate Social Responsibility. Don't make the mistake of thinking about Customer Service Representative as it is often used in a business context as well. CSR is a term used for organizations to get involved in not only to generate profit but also to use their business as a force for good by implementing social programs, creating a better work environment, creating environmental programs such as carefully choosing their suppliers, and waste management just to mention a few examples. 

In the investing world you will most likely read ESG which stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. Often times it will be used along with Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) which is a category of portfolios that are focused on make a positive difference by investing their money in socially responsible companies over profit maximization. However, today a lot of SRIs will generate equal or better return on investment (ROI) than the common portfolios. 

In closing, what is really important to understand about sustainability is that it is not simply about protecting the planet but also implementing better individual and business practices to create positive impact internally and externally.