Until ‘sustainability’ is better understood, we’d best not confuse the issue any further

“Sustainagility” is a new term that’s been coined by Walmart’s Latin American CEO Eduardo Solórzano – one that stands for a combination of innovation and agility in the pursuit of sustainability . On first reading of this brave new word it struck me that Walmart continues to not only be the largest retailer in the world, but has now become a corporate leader in promoting environmental concerns.

Although most people probably can’t even define sustainability yet, I find it quite interesting that we continue to use it as a basis for a variety of new plans and schemes. For example, last week’s edition of Sustainable Business News featured a column on “Pragmatic Sustainability” for companies that basically offered them a lot of latitude to define sustainability (or maybe just an easier way to enter the arena).

I can’t help but think that with all of the continuing incomprehension in regard to what sustainability really means, it will ultimately either be clearly defined and go on to influence the way we treat the planet, or else the references to it will disappear from popular discourse as one of those faddish terms that never really caught on with the public. So while kudos go to Walmart for moving “to integrate into our business strategy and operations a holistic sustainability plan for 100 percent renewable energy, zero waste and selling products that sustain people and the environment,” as Solorzano put it, both Walmart and other companies perhaps ought to remember that sustainability is by no means a concept that is widely understood. And right now, our primary focus should be on defining what it means, before we move on to new variations.

(For more on Solorzano’s remarks, click here