Articles and ads frequently use the terms “green” and “sustainable” interchangeably. Do they really mean the same thing?
Sustainable implies a higher threshold and meeting multiple environmental criteria, as well as economic and social factors. To be sustainable, something must necessarily be green. But, not all green things are sustainable.
For example, the garbage trucks in my town have various environmental messages displayed on their sides – how many tons of materials the company recycles each year, the amount of habitat it creates on finished landfills, etc. Those are green actions since they’re better for the environment than not doing them, but sustainability needs to take into account how much of something is being used or depleted and over what time period, and its ability to be profitably and beneficially continued indefinitely. In the case of garbage hauling and disposal, sustainability may mean generating less waste to begin with, rather than handling it more efficiently. (By the way, the garbage company doesn’t claim that its actions are sustainable, just green.)
What do you think about green versus sustainable? Is it important to draw a distinction?