Green and Sustainable versus Mature and Druable


This last weekend I had the chance to participate in a discussion of the ideas from Deep Economy: The Wealth Of Communities And The Durable Future put on by Smaller Indiana at the IUPUI Herron School of Art and Design. Bill McKibben, the book's author, presented for about 30 minutes and then a group of Citizen Panelists dialogged about the core ideas contained in the book and related that to central Indiana: consumption & growth, local food, and durable futures.

After the event, I had the opportunity to chat with Bill about a recent interview he gave where he said he preferred the words Mature and Durable over Green and Sustainable. I asked him to elaborate.

He said that we as humans have no connection to the words Green and Sustainable; when we are young we know we will grow and that growth is a good thing. Once we reach a certain age we stop growing (physically) and move into a mature state. In this context, mature is understood because we live with its meaning. As an aside, Bill said that, unfortunately, the word mature has been taken over by the AARP and can have good / bad meaning, depending on where you are on the age curve:)

Sustainable is another word we have no direct experience with in day-to-day life. When you say something is "sustainable" what do you really mean and how can I relate to it? However, we do have life experiences for the word "durable"; when we buy something of cheep plastic we know it is not going to last, but something made of fine leather or wood has the feeling of longevity and is durable. Look at the tools made by Durabuilt... they even took the feature of the tools, durability, and made it part of the product's brand name. Trying to do that for the word sustainability (sutainbuilt?) ...

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