Is selling less sustainable? Does working with handloom, natural dyes, organic cotton alone makes us sustainable? Are mending and second-hand purchase the definition of sustainability? Does consistent work for the entire value chain with fair wages the sustainable mantra? Is less carbon footprint in producing and selling a sustainable goal?
'Semantic satiation' is a phenomenon whereby repeated use of certain words results in losing their meaning. For instance, the word 'green', is hastily interpreted as the environment and when left to a person to act on it, leads nowhere. Similarly, the liberal use of the word sustainability is too stretchy with no clarity, which means everything and yet nothing!
Are sustainable brands responsible for the environment, socio-economic issues, gender, health, nutrition, human rights, education, poverty, sanitation? What exactly is being sustained? Or is it only about buying and selling a material perceived to be produced right?
Sustainability (UN, 1987): "To meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". The word sustain is derived from the Latin word Subtenere - 'sub' meaning 'towards' and 'tenere' means 'to uphold'
So does this pluralistic definition apply, ironically, only to the handmade textile industry or is it also about how sustainably the vehicles are manufactured, houses built, food grown, travels planned, supermarket functions, news delivered, parties organised, or movies made?
While environmentalism is about nature and surroundings, sustainability becomes an abstract concept without context. Also, a society that merely sustains, does not thrive. Hence, in most cases, however awkward, sustainability becomes an agenda-driven catchword, which most of the insiders know as - business as usual.
The idea to sustain life and livelihood is surely a well-meaning default requirement, but not as a selfish aspirational theory. What we consume need not be dumbed down to utilitarian products alone. So, could sustainability be all about learning and living with the self-awareness of our impacts on our surroundings without the use of #