...are two terms that are used often together describing products, processes or services or even communities that have lessened or negated any impact on the environment.
Wikipedia describes sustainability simply as "ability to endure" or more specifically as "a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society, its members and its economies are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems". The phrase "green" meanwhile still has no specific definition, yet we understand that it connotes sustainability in building practice, materials, food products, food production, etc... etc... Still it is vague and one's definition of "green" might run up against someone else' definition.
Sustainability is something I suspect even the most EPA hating republicans would agree is something to strive for after a careful inspection of it's description (the feigned interest in the deficit after all is about sustainability of our nation's long term financial situation).
It seems though that the corporatist model of conducting business is directly against sustainability. The push to maximize profits over all else inevitably leads to producing poorer products and pushing production to poorly skilled underpaid workers in dangerous and hazardous work environments. Once a corporation understands that maximizing profits above all else is a poor choice for long term success it has embraced the idea of sustainability to some degree.
I have been wondering how important sustainability is to us in the products and processes and services we consume on a daily basis, meaning local production of foods. Fair and living wages for services we use and so on. I was doing carpentry work for a wealthy client when I was living in New York. A smart, educated, very liberal professional who I overheard one morning talking to his wife about Wal-Mart and how they didn't pay a living wage to their employees- something absolutely accurate- and that was their reasoning in not buying from Wal-Mart. Fine, but they also seemed to feel that Wal-Mart shouldn't even be allowed to operate until they were forced to pay their employees more.
However, they had a cleaning lady who worked there for 8 hours a day once a week, cleaning their entire two floor Manhattan condo. She was deaf and barely spoke English, commuted an hour and a half by train every day to do similar work for other clients and at the end of the day my client's Stay at Home wife paid her $50. The client's wife then left and the maid began crying. I was able to communicate with her enough to understand that she felt she was being exploited but had no out. I didn't enquire, but I believe she was illegally in the country and was supporting a young teenage son also. I simply couldn't understand how these clients of mine could do something like this and it made me very suspicious of powerful politicians and business people when I hear them talk about sustainability and green and I wonder if these are practices that they want to inflict on others while they figure ways to maximize profits for themselves and their kind. It is understandable to want to save money and time whenever possible but it makes me wonder just how important "sustainability" actually is to us when it comes right down to it.