What is sustainability, anyway?

It was a simple and reasonable request from the marketing director of a large company: “Do you have a 1-2 page article you can share on ‘What Sustainability Is’? I am looking to do an internal training session with sales reps, and would love to share something as a pre-read to get them excited.”

At GreenBiz, we get a lot of requests for information and resources — from readers, colleagues, sponsors, partners, and everyone else. We can’t answer them all, but we try to be helpful, especially when it’s from a valued partner, as this one was. Most such requests are fairly focused — a referral to an organization or service provider, for example, or to a company “best practice” of a specific nature. Usually, we can put our fingers on the information in fairly short order.

But this one had us stumped.

It shouldn’t have. I’ve been working in the area of business and sustainability (though it wasn’t always called that) for just shy of 25 years. GreenBiz, as an organization and website, is 14 years old. Surely we’d have something as basic as a brief document defining sustainability for an audience not already immersed in the topic.

We didn’t. Moreover, in searching for something — anything — that might fit the bill, I found nothing that satisfied my needs.

This is a problem — for my organization, obviously, but for all of us. How are we supposed to scale this idea of “sustainable business” when there’s a dearth of resources geared to the uninitiated?

And let’s not forget one of the key parameters of the above assignment: a simple pre-read for a group of sales reps “to get them excited.”

Next page: Let's see what's out there