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Heads up! What is Sustainability, and Can You Explain it with Examples?

    What is Sustainability, and Can You Explain it with Examples?

    My hand is hurting a lot lately, which is more than annoying because I really need it. I write. A lot. Each day. As well as those other things everyone does with their hands. I need both of them, but the right one, the one that hurts, does the bulk of the work.

    I’ve tried using my left hand but, well, if you’re right handed you know where that got me. I’ve tried various ways of avoiding using my right hand but none are sustainable. Which got me thinking, what might I do to sustain continued use of my hand? Will I eventually need speech software to write? And, who will open the jar of pickles next Thanksgiving?

    Then I got lost on the topic of sustainability.

    “Sustainability means taking a holistic perspective on social, environmental, and economic issues. The Agile Manifesto can be leveraged for increasing sustainability. For example, when focusing on business people and developers working together, explore the target group and ensure that you embrace accessibility.”

    What is meant by sustainability?

    Speed wins. If you can do something faster, you have a better chance to succeed. If you can ideate faster, produce faster, test faster, win customers faster, and innovate faster than your competitors you will win. But, is being fast and winning necessarily the best goal to have? What about being effective, efficient, or better yet, sustainable?

    How can we organise ourselves for peak efficiency? How can we plan and manage our projects to be most effective? How can we know we’re doing the right thing, the sustainable thing, the thing that matters?

    And, what the heck do we mean by sustainabilty?

    The other day in class, that question kept us busy for more than thirty minutes. Which is odd because it was an SEO class. It’s a conversation I’ve had with clients too. Google the term sustainability and you open up quite a few rabbit holes. Are we talking climate? Process? Resources? What we eat? What we wear? What we do? Where and how we live?

    Architecture with high quality standards corresponds to the increasingly important factors of sustainability and lasting value.

    How do you explain sustainability to a child?

    Like any term, the best way to understand it is probably first to look for the ‘why?’ behind it. Like the Frenchman said, if you do not understand ‘why’ you have no power. I really like that perspective.

    According to Merriam Webster, sustainability (suh-stey-nuh-bil-i-tee) can be defined as:

    1: able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed

    2: involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources

    3: able to last or continue for a long time


    The term sustainability is a tough nut to crack, especially when we’re trying to rank for keywords on Google. I have encountered this problem with some of my clients whose direct and undeniable focus is sustainable products and services. Interior decoration, building, architecture, work-life balance, food … doing something in a way that does not exhaust what you are doing or any other resource.

    If you think about it though, we are probably all looking to stay in business, or stay healthy, or in our home … so whatever we are doing should be for some time. It should be sustainable. Right? Kids: a lemonade stand that runs out of lemonade in the morning cannot sell lemonade in the afternoon.

    Sustainability can save the planet. It can also save you time.

    We think most often of sustainability as having to do with the climate, food production and consumption, even our survival as a species. Sustainability can also be about how we build or decorate our homes, or what we wear. It can be about our personal, work, or cultural relationships.

    There are sustainable processes like social media, storytelling, gardening, even a fitness regimen. There’s even the chance to talk about sustainable email. We should, if we want to understand what we mean by the term.

    Sourcing sustainable and healthy materials is imperative if we are going to protect our health and rejuvenate the natural world around us.

    Oh, and as this is a website, we could even talk about sustainable web design. “Sustainable web design is an approach to designing web services that puts people and planet first.” No lie. That’s pretty cool.

    website carbon footprint check

    Sustainable websites have a minimal carbon footprint

    You can check your website at

    From data centres to transmission networks to the billions of connected devices that we hold in our hands, it is all consuming electricity, and in turn producing carbon emissions.

    Exercises for the fingers, hands and wrists

    This isn’t that type of post, so I can’t help you there, but I’ll keep you updated on my hand. Perhaps it’s just a passing annoyance. Like the pain in my leg that began on Saturday …

    More Reading

    I talked about this topic again with Green Geeks on a webinar in October 2022. Check it out!

    10 tips to eat more sustainably – WWF

    Our favourite sustainable brands – Harpers Bazaar

    Forbes Favorites 2020: The Year’s Best Stories On Sustainability In Europe

    5 Sustainable Businesses in 2021 & Their Best Practices