What Is Sustainability?
Published June 2020
Updated September 2021
When most people hear the word sustainability, they think it means the same thing as eco-friendly or green. The terms are often used interchangeably in marketing materials. However, while being environmentally friendly is part of the concept of sustainability, the idea is a little more involved than only using products that don’t harm the environment.
Sustainability refers to an all-encompassing approach to consuming and using goods that benefit the environment, economy, and society.
Sustainable products utilize an ethical supply chain and use only humane production methods.
They are sourced naturally (meaning, free of pesticides or unnatural additives) by people who are treated well and paid fairly. The goods are transported in a way that creates as little pollution as possible, without using any more resources or energy than necessary.
Is Sustainability the Same as Eco-Friendly?
In short, no, sustainability is not the same as eco-friendly, although the words are closely related. One element of sustainability is being eco-friendly, which is often referred to as green or environmentally friendly. These words are not interchangeable with sustainability. For example, a product that is made using renewable resources would be considered a green or eco-friendly product. But, if it takes a lot of energy for a company to manufacture the product and then ship it to you, it’s not sustainable.
Eco-friendly, environmentally-friendly, and green products are all concerned with how friendly a product is to the environment. They do not take into account the social and economic implications of a product, or the waste that a product creates, the way that sustainability does.
It can feel overwhelming to try to live sustainably. Because of all the elements that go into buying sustainable products, it can be difficult to transition to living a completely sustainable lifestyle. Fortunately, you don’t need to overhaul your entire life to support a sustainable mission.
Simply make a few small improvements in your home.
That's what we here at Benchmaster WoodworX like to encourage people to do--take just one step in the right direction to live a more sustainable lifestyle. We're not telling you to revamp your entire life. That would be overwhelming and not too productive for any of us.
Sustainability in Home Decor
The simplest way to make your home more sustainable is to consider carefully the materials you bring into your home. Wood is by far the most sustainable material you can use since it is a renewable resource. It grows naturally and, because it is abundant in the United States, it is often easy to find locally sourced wood to reduce transportation resources and pollution.
In addition to being sustainable, wood products are durable and will last significantly longer than products made from other materials, like plastic.
Wood is one of the most naturally renewable energy sources, something we’re not going to run out of anytime soon. It also absorbs carbon dioxide and is known as a ‘carbon store’. This means for every meter of wood used in construction, one ton of carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere.
Wood has a higher insulation rating than either steel or plastic as a result of its natural cellular structure. This means that homes and buildings require less energy to maintain heating and cooling, plus wood can help regulate humidity levels to a small degree.
Opt for wood in place of other materials the next time you go shopping for furniture and home decor. Switching to wood utensils, dishes, and cutting boards is a small but impactful way to make your home more sustainable. If you are getting ready to remodel, look for wood light fixtures, tables, and chairs.
Slowly incorporating more wood and less plastic and metal materials into your home will go a long way toward helping both the environment and your health while supporting the goal of sustainable living.
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