Sustainability. What does that mean?
In our series of articles on „Sustainable interiors in a nut shell“ we would like to illuminate the so often inflationary used term „sustainability“ through our „Eco-Icons“ beyond marketing clichés and unfulfilled advertising claims.
Hardly any other term has so commonly been used for company communication and marketing purposes in the last couple of years as sustainability. The message is clear; sustainability sells! And that is why companies are forcefully campaigning with buzzwords like „sustainability“, „green“ or the new “eco product line”. Every major corporation claims to be sustainable in some way or the other. „Corporate Social Responsibility Reports“are being written and companies are certifying their products with different „Eco-Labels“.
Sustainability is the business of tomorrow especially in the „living area“ estimates for example Harald Gutschi, managing director of the Otto Group.
As good and correct this development may be in most co operations, as much confusion does the inflationary use of the term cause by the end consumer. Questions arises: „What should I be aware of, if I want to set up my home sustainable and healthy?“, „Which eco labels are to be trusted?“, „Is the term „sustainability“ only advertisement, or is the product really ecologically produced and healthy? Just to name a few.
What does „sustainability“ mean?
The term originally stems from the forestry industry and indicates that the number of trees felled should not exceed the number replanted or the rate at which the trees could naturally grow back. It´s a fine example – easy to grasp – which bids an initial understanding of the term.
But naturally the topic is a lot more complex than that; since the 1990s´ it is common to divide sustainability in the three cornerstones ecology, economy and social engagement.
Ecological sustainability equates to the original thought from the forestry industry not to over-exploit nature.
Economical sustainability: The economy of a society rate as sustainable if it can be operated permanently and doesn´t live over its means so that it has to eat into the resources of future generations.
Social sustainability: A nation or a society is organized in a way that keeps social tensions within limits and conflicts doesn´t escalate, but can be solved in a peaceful and civil manner.
These three pillars must now be broken down and applied to whole production processes.
And what´s the use of sustainability certificates?
Certificates like the FSC seal, „Blaue Engel“, „Öko Control“ or„Green Globe“ – just to name a few are of course good and important, but because of the diversity of available labels and certificates they only partly solve the opacity problem.
Moreover certificates are something that usually only major corporations can afford. Many smaller companies are working all the more sustainable; they already have sustainability in their DNA but on grounds of cost are not able to equip their products with the fitting labels.