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Beyond Sustainability: Why an All-Consuming Campaign to Reduce Unsustainability Fails

Changethis Website 2006

The very way we think about the world and create the reality that grounds and justifies our actions leads to unsustainability and impedes a move to sustainability. But virtually every answer to every question we grapple with comes out of our view of reality. In a sense, we are stuck in the system that has creates our dilemmas. Until we begin to dwell in a new, sustainability world, we will have lots of questions but few answers that seem to √ět. If you can discipline yourself to live inside of the questions that are surely raised here, then you will be able to slowly discard the old tried, but no longer true answers and replace them with new effective ways to build a sustainable future.

Feeding the Beast

Fast Company No. 111 2006

And that's the thing about consumption: It's essentially a myopic, self- centered pastime. Addictive consumption submerges our concerns about ourselves, others, and the Earth. The things we buy and use become extensions of ourselves; we use them mindlessly, with little awareness of why. The challenge for business should be to reverse this pattern by offering goods and services that, beyond merely adding to our possessions, actually restore and maintain our ability to care and flourish.

The Roots of Sustainability

Sloan Management Review Winter 2005

Management literature today abounds with stories about the business case for sustainability. Yet, the author suggests, much of business's efforts in the name of sustainable development at best only temporarily slow society's continuing drift toward unsustainability. Indeed, he argues, that the term "sustainable development" has become an oxymoron. The problem really stems from management's failure to see unsustainability as a deep-seated systems failure and to appreciate the extent to which radical thinking and action are required to embark upon a sustainable trajectory.

Over time, the business community has gotten in the habit of ignoring the source of the problem, and now it risks gradually losing the ability to think deeply about it in order to produce the right kind of solutions. Drawing on systems dynamics, philosophy, psychology and social theory, this article seeks to answer a critical question: Can anything be done to radically transform the way that businesses work?

Searching for Sustainability

Reflections, Vol 5, No. 8, 2004

Management literature abounds with articles making a business case for "sustainability." Business pundits trumpet the great opportunity for enterprises to find the few places they profitably can bundle social goods into their markets. Socially responsible investing has become the latest mechanism to use the power of the market, in this case the financial markets, to punish the "bad" guys and reward those firms that are doing the "right" thing. One problem with all of these practices is that they have little or nothing to do with creating true sustainability. In most cases, they will only temporarily slow down the process of environmental degradation and global social inequity. In short, the best that most businesses today can claim is that they're doing less harm than they might. But halting the environmental degradation and growing social inequity between the world's haves and have-nots will require fundamental change in the way that businesses and societies work.