Over use of words like sustainable breeds contempt.

September 9th 2016

Sustainable has become a buzzword beloved by businesses. They believe it is one of those “gatekeeper” words consumers look for when trying to decide the relative benefit of buying one product over another. It falls into the same category as words like fairtrade, natural, biodegradable and recycled.

We are not suggesting these are bad things, far from it in fact. The trouble is that words like sustainable have become so familiar to us all that most of us have ceased to think about what the word actually means or just how important sustainability is.

By the same token how often do you think about your use of things that are not sustainable. The fact that something is not sustainable means that there is a finite amount of it and once used it will not be replaceable. Future generations will never benefit from it. It is gone in its current form forever. Could that non-sustainable material have been used to the greater benefit of mankind and the ecosystem on which we all rely than as a key ingredient in the burger box you have just chucked in the bin? Of course it could. After a momentary tinge of guilt we move on.

In more reflective moments we tell ourselves “We will always find more raw materials if we look hard enough” or “we will innovate ourselves out of trouble, we always have”.

Perhaps its time that we all took more interest in how the world’s natural resources are being used on our behalf.

Scientists have warned that the world’s most commonly used inert gas is being depleted at an astonishing rate because of a law passed in the United States in 1996 which has effectively made helium too cheap to recycle.

The experts warn that the world could run out of helium within 25 to 30 years, potentially spelling disaster for products such as MRI scanners, which are cooled by the gas in liquid form.

Most of us know of at least one animal that is now extinct. Unless we take a greater interest in the state of the world’s natural resources, future generations might be announcing the extinction of certain gases, minerals, ores and fossil fuels from our planet much sooner than we think and they won’t thank us for the profligate way we used them up.