How sustainable is sustainable?

As probably many other people on this planet I call myself trying to be sustainable. Creating this description implies that I am aware that there is no being 100% sustainable in my view, as we all leave traces and giving emission to the air. To make it easy here I take the most known definition of sustainability: Sustainability is the capacity to endure. Sustainability requires the reconciliation of environmental, social equity and economic demands. However even the aiming to be sustainable in this three areas is in our current society not easy.

First station: Supermarket
Which food is the most sustainable? Local, seasonal, organic, fair-trade are well known criteria’s – but how about use and source of energy or amount of water needed during the production? How about transportation and conditions of transportation? How much land needs to be cultivated – what plants will be lost – which animals extinct? How long will the soil be fertile, what about monocultures?… indeed a never ending story, question for me: where to start and where to end? I liked the article in the VCS magazine about it

Second station: Travel
Well, helpful in terms of minimising your travel is if you have one centre of living where you combine family, friends, job, and hobbies within some kilometres – you can take your bike and cover your world. But if this is not the case what do you do? Train, car, bike or work@home? In which cases if flying ok? For meaningful business, adventures full of learning’s? Are electric bikes good – if the electricity comes from nuclear power or gas plants? Again here I have the feeling it is hard to make it 100% right.

Third station: Looking at others
Within my range of living I try to deal with the challenges touched above. Totally different stories are the others, especially big companies, politicians or juries for well-respected prizes. I read lately that Nestlé was the greenest Swiss company in the study of Interbrand (rank 14) – rank 1-3 are taken by Toyota, Ford and Honda – are these companies the most ecologically friendly in your view and what about sustainable in general?
Or that the World Food Prize 2013 goes to scientist of Monsanto and Syngenta – isn’t that a bit weird? How sustainable would you call big monopoles or GMO in general?

So what to do now? Probably just keep on enjoying small steps and supporting the really great initiatives, which need our energy to grow and are sustainable from root to the top – do you have any you want to name here?

Martina Straub
Head of Finance and Communication
martina@kaospilots.ch

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