What does Sustainable even mean?

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Sustainable Synonyms and the Meaning of a Sustainable Economy

 

You might think that you know exactly what sustainability means. It’s probably one of the words you heard the most in 2021! But did you know that different people can have different meanings for sustainability?

 

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Let’s start with a question: When you hear the word “sustainability”, what do you think about?

 

Most people, when they hear this word, associate it only with environmental sustainability, which includes avoiding climate change and protecting the world’s resources. Did you know that sustainability means much more than that!?
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Definition of sustainability - In the broadest sense, sustainability refers to the ability of something to maintain or "sustain" itself over time. In a practical sense, sustainability might have different meanings, depending on the context. Sustainable policies are those that have regards to the future effects and consequences, whether it’s on humans, the economy, or nature. In business and policy contexts, limits to sustainability are determined by physical and natural resources, environmental degradation, and social resources. Sustainability is often broken down into three pillars: economic, environmental, and social—also known as profits, planet, and people.

Economic Sustainability - According to the Thwing Center, economic sustainability, in its traditional sense, is: “The ability of an economy to support a defined level of economic production indefinitely.” 

Environmental Sustainability - Environmental sustainability focuses on the life support systems, such as the atmosphere, soil and water, that must be maintained for economic production or human life to even occur.

Social Sustainability - Social sustainability focuses on the human effects of economic systems, and the category includes attempts to eradicate poverty and hunger, as well as to combat inequality.

Most people agree that the term sustainability (or even “economic sustainability”) must include all of those definitions. If we want to have a sustainable economy, we should have a concern for the future, including not only the levels of production but also our impact on nature and society. Sustainable Economy Given that, a sustainable economy is one that is resilient and provides a good quality of life for all the earth’s inhabitants. It’s one that generates the greatest amount of general well-being with the least amount of resources and environmental harm. It must maintain the world’s ecological footprint lower than nature's renewable supply of resources (also known as bio-capacity). How do we achieve a sustainable economy? In order to create a sustainable economy, we need to shift all of our organization’s production methods to meet a sustainable production criteria.

Sustainable Production - Sustainable production includes all production methods for the creation of goods and services that have a concern for the future of the planet, people and planet. In practice, this means using processes and systems that are: Non-polluting Conserving of energy and natural resources Economically viable Safe and healthful for workers, communities, and consumers Socially and creatively rewarding for all working people.

 

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Sustainability is one of our core values at Velvety. We only work with brands that comply with the systems above at the highest level. Not only that, we only source vegan, cruelty-free products that are ethically made and feature organic materials. The fast fashion industry is one of the biggest threats to sustainability. Cheap clothes and accessories are produced quickly by sweatshop labour, damaging the worker’s health but also causing a great deal of pollution. That’s why we need more ethical brands that rely on sustainable production, and more consumers supporting these types of brands! In order to build a sustainable economy, organisations need to prioritise long-term well-being for all, over short-term profits. If production is sustainable, then the environment, employees, communities, and organisations—all benefit.

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Sustainable Synonyms - Looking at the different meanings for the word sustainable, you might be wondering if other words considered synonyms of the word sustainable mean the same. You can definitely use words like eco-friendly or environmentally friendly, but note that these words only refer to the environmental aspect of sustainability. So if you want a word that includes all three factors - the environment, economy and people - you should use the word sustainability.

Examples of economic sustainability - Fortunately, there are a growing number of brands and organisations that focus on sustainable production. Consumers are also more aware and demand that brands comply with their demands. An excellent example of economic sustainability that goes beyond is upcycling. Upcycling comprises the reuse of discarded objects or materials to create products of higher quality and value than the original. We have a variety of upcycled products at Velvety and even a rewards program where you can earn a $25 voucher for donating 10kg of your old clothes! Besides that, all material that we use at Velvety, such as craft paper for our packaging and stationery in our office, is 100% recycled or sourced from sustainable materials and companies.

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