What is the definition of sustainability, anyway?
First, a little historical perspective on the definition of sustainability. The definition appeared already in the 1900s and covers, in simplified terms, the following:
Meeting the needs of present generations without compromising the needs of future generations.
In other words, ensuring that we, the current generation, have our needs met at the same time as ensuring that our descendants can maintain the same standard of living. The phrase was formulated in 1987 in the light of the Brundtland Commission report.
Sustainability therefore covers a wide range of aspects when looking at the definition:
Everything from climate, environment, biodiversity, social aspects and everything in between is related to sustainability. The SDGs, ESGs (Environmental, Social and Governmental) and more, are goals and methods to use in the sustainable journey, which you can learn more about at grønmarketing.dk via chapter 5.
The circular economy is also part of sustainability, which is somewhat implicit in the concept. If something is circular, it naturally implies that it can continue in a loop ‘infinitely’.
In theory, you can have circular business models that involve non-sustainable resources, but here we dare to ask if you can really call it circular?
So what does 100% sustainability mean?
One thing is the definition of sustainability, but what does 100% sustainability mean in practice? Let’s take the most obvious example of something that isn’t:
Burning fossil fuels
The most obvious fuels are fossil fuels. In this way, the fuel, oil or gas, is turned into energy and then into something we can’t just reuse in the system. In theory, technologies for carbon sequestration exist, but this is still neither implemented nor developed to be easily used on a large scale.
Let’s look at 100% sustainability with coffee as a fictional example
Fictional example of something that in theory could be 100% sustainable:
- the coffee plantation is made inside a real forest so the soil is not depleted between seasons
- fertilization of the soil comes from the forest itself, just like a natural forest
- the farmers are picked and processed by farmers who receive a fair wage and living conditions
- the coffee is transported to the roastery on electric lorries, in Denmark for example
- where 100% of the power comes from solar, wind and batteries
- batteries have been reused over and over again, as for example the batteries of current electric cars can
- wind turbines must be reusable so that no materials are wasted
- the garment is made of 100% sustainable materials too
- the roastery does its part and gets the product to the shops
- all production and transport to use 100% sustainable power again
- packaging etc. must be 100% recyclable
- production and shop workers must have fair pay and living conditions
- the coffee is consumed in a machine where there is no waste
- filters or similar must be reusable
- the coffee machine must be 100% reusable or recyclable
- the grit is returned to the forest as fertiliser or made into other products
The above is a, roughly, simplified 100% sustainable and circular system. As you can also see, the way the world is right now, it’s impossible to be 100% sustainable. That’s why companies often simply greenwash, even if that’s not their intention.
Okay, so we can’t be sustainable, but what do we do?
The example above is a good idea of how we could become sustainable. In fact, it is a plan we can try to strive towards.
Companies like Peter Larsen Kaffe and Slow Coffee are working on just that, and have actually solved many of the pieces of the puzzle described above. This is also the point: right now, green transition is about making a plan, and then trying to solve as many of the small parts as possible. One day and one step at a time.
How does communication play a role in sustainability?
In short, it’s about communicating our journey while we’re on it. The result is the following very fine points:
- you are kept up to date on your goals and plans
- hopefully you sell more greener products
- motivation increases in yourself and your employees to continue
- the company can potentially grow more and faster
- many more aspects
Green communication can therefore be your company’s way of really getting started on the green transition.
Before you start, however, we recommend that you learn to communicate honestly, transparently and, above all, effectively.
Green Marketing can be the solution
Grønmarketing.dk can be the solution. Here we have created a 10 chapter course with 9 company cases such as Peter Larsen Kaffe, Restaurant Flammen, Alfix and Naturli’, where you don’t necessarily become an expert, but you should become comfortable in communicating green.
Watch out, as the first 200 get free entry, after which the price is 9,995 per participant.