- In the context of a societal unit (individual, family, tribe, village, town, city, county, state, country), the capacity to survive and thrive for the short and long term including, but not limited to, its ability to provide for the basic human needs of food, clothing, shelter and medical care, and;
- In the context of an organizational unit (business, non-profit or government), the capacity to meet its objectives of providing goods and/or services to its customers or constituents in the short and long term, and;
- For both societal and organizational units, their capacity to achieve their objectives but not by compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Thus, for companies in the apparel industry, a sustainable business is one that can source and/or manufacture clothing (apparel, textiles, footwear, accessories, etc.) that meets the needs of their customers and consumers now and into the future. While this might sound like a simple term, I suggest that a truly sustainable business is one that:
- Uses only renewable raw materials: cotton, wool, flax, linen, silk and certain plant-derived polyesters, acetate and rayon.
- Uses only renewable energy sources such as plant and garbage waste, wind, solar, wave and hydroelectric in securing, processing and transporting raw materials and finished products.
- Uses only renewable and/or recyclable buildings and machinery built from stone, wood, natural fibers, rubber and steel.
- Only purchases raw materials, packaging, transportation and advertising services — in short, all goods and services that support the product and brands — from companies that use only renewable energy and raw materials.”
I really like the detailed explanation as sustainability is a complex concept and needs to be understood well.