This post is about sustainability and lies.
I got inspired to write about this topic by the sign below that I saw in a hotel bathroom the weekend before last…
This kind of increasingly ubiquitous lie about sustainability is usually more thoughtless than intentional. Since everybody else does it, we reflexively cite the environment as a reason to do things. In many cases our purpose is much more to show the world that we are environmental good guys than to actually influence behavior.
Take, “Please consider the environment before printing this email.” Has anyone ever forgone a hard copy that they really needed for environmental considerations? If you don’t really need a hard copy, aren’t there more compelling reasons for not bothering to print it than the environment.
There is another kind of being sustainable lie that is much more damaging — the lie that being sustainable is good marketing. I am most familiar with this lie in travel, but I have seen it crop up in many other fields as well.
This second type of sustainability lie is particularly insidious because initially being sustainable can be good marketing, but (read this slowly) marketing through sustainability is not sustainable.