Survey: What is sustainability for you?

While discussing the subject, E.K., musician and video editor from Athens, currently living in Holland, said to me: “When I hear the word sustainability I hold a knife. Sustainability for whom? That’s the correct question right there.”; to which I had to immediately exclaim “my point exactly!”. The current social and economic situation dictates that we take into account a great variety of social and cultural parameters in order to create sustainability measures that make sense for all. And since the problem we are, in the long run, trying to solve is global, we do have to take all into account.

So here are some thoughts I have collected, from citizens around Europe, which I hope to be able to enrich in the following weeks:


Michael Papapetrou, Physicist, Dublin, IR

“Sustainability is:

For environmentalists: You take your bicycle and go to the local pub for a beer. But you cant’ enjoy it because you are worried about the fertilisers that were used for the wheat, all the water that went into the production process and if the pub will recycle the bottle. You can’t sleep in the night thinking that maybe it is because of people like you that the environment is in such a state

For the others: You take your SUV and go out of town to the big shopping centre to buy a 60″ plasma tv for your bedroom. You are delighted with yourself because the manual is printed on paper from “sustainably managed forests”. You go to sleep leaving the tv on, just in case you want to watch some later, sleep like a baby thinking if all were just like you the world would be full of forests.”


Matthias Busold, Principal at Kienbaum Executive Consultants GmbH, Hamburg, DE

“Sustainability is always acting future-related. In business it is the Hanseatic model and consists of trustworthiness, reliability and long-term personal relationship rather than quick money.”


G.A., Physicist, Athens, GR

“Modern PC crap; and an excuse for corporations to carry on blood sucking people with a cloak of self-righteousness.”


A.R., Postdoctoral researcher on Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Attosecond Science, ETH, Zurich, CH

“Use of resources, which causes the minimum possible harm on the environment, on the long term, and from a global perspective.”


Ines Warnke, Nutritional Scientist, DSM, Basel, CH

“Here some of my sustainable life principles – so in short it is not one thing it is a matter of attitude:

– Recycling e.g. of paper, glass etc. even better avoid the production of waste (save a plastic bag a day).

– Avoid buying items with a short life span (e.g. Tupperware instead of cheap plastic kitchen stuff).

– Clothes-Exchange Parties; fully load the washing machine, don’t use the tumble dryer.

– Switch off lights where it is not needed.

– Print on both sides.

– The use of “AquaClick” to reduce the amount of consumed fresh water.

– Car-Pooling.

– Energy saving houses / flats.

– Sharing of once in a while used equipment.

– Eat less meat and buy regional and seasonal products.”


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