Green vs. Sustainable

Green or sustainable? Aren’t they kind of the same thing? The short answer is a resounding “no” and let me outline why…

First and foremost, what does each respective term even mean? Definitions vary, but some major tenets of sustainability include it being well-balanced, looking at the long-term solutions that benefit an entire community rather than a select few, and having an eye not just towards the health of the environment or economic vitality but also towards social equity. Where sustainability, in order to be successful, must have a some sort of political involvement and position on policy, “green” doesn’t have to be connected to anything politically charged, making it far more digestible by everyday consumers.

Here’s the thing, we consume...a lot. Our level of consumption, if the whole world were to live like we did, would require the resources of three Earths. We don’t think about the longevity of our consumer goods, but rather we purchase what’s easiest and inexpensive. All these products really begin to pile up, whether they were marked "green" or traditional. 

Nowadays, we might still consume, but we also see the need for change. Unfortunately, change itself is hard and often unappealing. To become more sustainable requires true change, the alteration of entire systems, but to become more “green” we can implement easy short-term solutions that really aren’t too hard to swallow.

The idea of “going green” isn’t necessarily inherently bad, but it’s tied up with some pretty bad stuff. “Greenwashing” is the concept that businesses who are fundamentally unsustainable are using the “going green” trend to help sell their products. People are wanting to do what’s best, and these companies are deceiving consumers by telling them that in buy the company’s products, they are helping the environment.

All in all, companies like big coal and big oil who are “going green” are really just using it as a  marketing tool to get more consumers to buy their products and play into their sector of the economy. Understanding how we are being cheated into purchasing higher-priced goods in the name of “green” is the first step in the direction of a true sustainable revolution. The best way to live a more sustainable life is to think twice before shopping.

green|spaces is dedicated to their mission of promoting sustainability in working, living, and building in Chattanooga. We want to help improve the entire community rather than promoting an individualistic agenda because we feel we have a responsibility not only to be stewards of the environment but also raise the quality of life for residents and visitors.

You too can be a part of making Chattanooga more sustainable! Think twice before making “green” purchases, keep things balanced within your own limitations of circumstance, and focus on the long-term effects of your actions rather than the short-term.