VIEWS: Defining Sustainability

Dispatch from SSC Intern Stephanie Castellano

A recent article from touches upon how a roundtable discussion of business professionals in Pennsylvania, concerning life cycle assessment standards, led to a bigger discussion on sustainability. One topic addressed during the conversation dealt with how sustainable companies are often faced with consumers that are confused about terms such as sustainability, green, natural, and organic. However, during the meeting, one roundtable member confessed that even he, as a sustainability professional, is confused about those terms.

This article got me thinking. We throw around these terms of sustainability, but yet how do we define these terms in order to make more sense of their broad definitions? What expectations do we have from consumers in recognizing what Green means, if we don't know ourselves? So I wanted to pose this broader question to all organizations going through a green transition:

As a company interested in “going green” and becoming a sustainable business, what environmental terms does your company define as part of your “greener”model? How do you define such words as green, natural, sustainable or organic?

Read more about the roundtable discussions here.