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The definition of sustainability

Danny Ruspandini - Impact Labs Australia
Danny R.

Sustainability is one of those words that has several meanings... well, kinda.

From a business perspective I’ve become hyper-aware of it’s use in two particular ways:

A financially sustainable business, meaning it can sustain it's finances and not go out of business.

An environmentally sustainable business that makes strategic decisions based on the impact it wants to have (or not have) on the environment.

At first they seem like different things, but looking at the Cambridge Dictionary definitions:

Sustainable: The quality of being able to continue over a period of time;

Sustainable (env): The quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time.

The definition is the same, it’s only the context that changes.

The enviro context implies that by sustaining the environment, we'll actually get to continue to do all the things we want to do, including running our businesses - which I imagine would be hard if there was no environment.

That’s nice. Who cares?

Context matters.

Sustainability matters.

So who cares? Maybe everyone who comes after you cares. Maybe your kids care. Maybe their kids will care.

Financial sustainability allows a business to stay in business, and responsible leaders always have one eye on this.

But if that same business doesn’t feel responsible for contributing to environmental sustainability, should it deserve to stay in business?

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