What is the Difference Between "sustainable" and "green?"

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What is the difference in Sustainable and Green? There is a distinct difference between sustainable and green.

In the news, in advertising, in articles and on the television we are hearing the words Green or Sustainable all the time but many are asking:

 What is the difference in Sustainable and Green? Too many get caught up in trying to decipher the difference. The main thing to remember is that we should all try and be less wasteful and more conscious of how the products we use affect our environment. We should all want the earth to be as beautiful for us today as it can and to be as beautiful for many generations to come.

But for the people that feel the need to understand more, the definition is the best place to start.

Sustainable: Capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment.

Sustainable is more specific on a product or process that can be re-used or re-grown over and over. A community can be sustainable. “The Government of the United Kingdom defines a sustainable community in its 2003 Sustainable Communities Plan: Sustainable communities are places where people want to live and work, now and in the future. They meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, are sensitive to their environment, and contribute to a high quality of life. They are safe and inclusive, well planned, built and run, and offer equality of opportunity and good services for all”. Bamboo is a great example of a sustainable product. It can grow to harvest in five years. It can then be cut and it will re-grow on its own.

More and more, sustainable has come to mean resources. Resources are usually referred to as food and energy. Fish is a good example of not sustainable. With health experts saying we need to eat more and more fish that means there is more and more fishing. Fish like salmon are not sustainable at this rate of fishing and eating the salmon. To keep supplies sustainable they will restrict commercial fishing and there are now farmed salmon and other types of fish.

Sustainable energy usually refers to the types of energy that is sustainable like solar and wind energy. Oil continues to be the main source of energy, and could be sustainable for decades, but it cannot last forever and it causes a great deal of pollution.


Green: The most common associations, however, are found in its ties to nature. Green is also associated with regeneration, fertility and rebirth for its connections to nature. Recent political groups have taken on the color as symbol of environmental protection and social justice, and consider themselves part of the Green movement or environmentally friendly.

Green is a word that is broader in the approach of being environmentally friendly or saving the environment. Green can be used in many ways. Green is more of a catch phrase for protecting our environment. Some are more extreme than others, but still usually fall in the earth friendly group.

Green can also refer to farming practices that do not use any type of fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides that can pollute the soil, the water and the air. A home gardener can also be green by making and using their own compost for their home gardens. This not only helps the garden, but reduces the amount of trash that is thrown away into the public landfills.

Being green also refers to recycling everything you possibly can, from old computers to the beer and pop cans from your home. Most cities have a great recycling program that allows everyone to separate their trash from products that can be recycled to items that cannot be recycled.

So is there really a big difference in Green and Sustainable? Yes, but is difficult not to tie the two together. Using sustainable products helps make things green and those that want to be green, need to use sustainable products or use the sustainable concept.

1 comment

Charlene Collins
Posted on Jun 27, 2009