In Boston a few weeks ago, I met a friend of my friend, and she and I talked a bit about our jobs and what we’d really like to be doing. When I mentioned school (I really should put a post in about that), it must have stuck with her, because she emailed the Green Light Bite newsletter to me, from The Greenlight Magazine. One of the articles in the newsletter was about The Debate Over Greenwashing, which apparently is the practice of trying to combine sustainability with profitability, or fulfilling the needs of the consumer while trying to compromise the environment as little as possible. The article in question is actually about the Swiffer mop, but this is what stood out to me, so I wanted to highlight it here:
How would you define sustainability?
In my view, the concept of sustainability cannot be limited to environmental issues. Finding the “right thing to do” won’t help much if most people won’t do it. We need to find the best thing to do that many people will do—because it’s enjoyable, beneficial, and engaging for them—and that is economically viable.
Unfortunately, human beings have a difficult time seeing the relationship between their behavior and its effects, if those effects are too distant in time or space. So people may pay lip service to more ecofriendly behavior—public transportation, for example—but unless that behavior provides short-term gratification, it is not likely to be sustainable.
This is a very interesting concept – sustainability shouldn’t be about just the environment, but about our attitudes towards the environment as well. I don’t know that what we do to be good stewards of the earth is always going to be easy (putting something in the recycling bin instead of the garbage? Easy. Trying to use more public transportation, especially in a place which doesn’t have much of it? A little more difficult.), but as with any change we make in our lives, we should have a continually renewed attitude that it will help make us better people and help those around us as well.
Trying to go green is a lot like losing weight (to me, since I’m trying to do both right now) – we don’t acquire bad habits overnight, nor can we expect to change our habits to good ones overnight. Every moment gives us a choice, and this is where we slowly make our attitudes sustainable: each time you choose to recycle a can instead of toss it in the garbage, you make it easier to make the same choice the next time.