Regenerative design and the problem with sustainability jargon

Marc Seligmann cropped

An alphabet soup of terminology can often obscure the real objectives around sustainability, writes Marc Seligmann

As I reflect on the last two years in my role as head of sustainability at Maccreanor Lavington, I’ve grown to recognise the challenges in effectively communicating sustainability concepts to both the public and industry stakeholders. Initial reactions to my new role from friends and family ranged from confusion (“what does that entail?”) to scepticism (“so you’re the head of greenwashing”). It’s disconcerting that despite sustainability being a prominent topic in mainstream media for over two decades, such misconceptions still prevail.

Within the sustainability echo chamber, it’s easy to assume universal understanding of terms like “sustainability”. However, reality paints a different picture, and definitions vary widely. Something like food choice exemplifies this. Are apples from Kent sustainable because they are locally grown but stored in energy intensive refrigeration? Is the pineapple flown in from Kenya sustainable because it provides local work to a disadvantaged community. These scenarios show the nuances of aligning with the sustainable development goals.

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