the word “sustainable” is becoming unsustainable

It would seem that we’re over-using some words these days. Each year Lake Superior State University compiles a list of words that are voted on for over-use. These words are then listed as “banned”. While they’re not actually banned words, they are just used much too often and become annoying to enough people to get voted for and placed on the list. “Occupy” was one of the banned words from 2011.

But what about “sustainable”? This word gets thrown around more and more frequently and has come to almost lose meaning all-together. In several places around the interwebs “sustainable” seems to have become unsustainable (treehugger.com and XKCD, for instance).

What is it about Western culture that creates buzzwords and then uses them until no one wants to hear them anymore? The movement toward sustainability in industry and daily life has forced itself on people so much, I can’t imagine anyone paying attention once they see, read, or hear the word “sustainability”.

I think that we tend to jump on bandwagons and then a few of us tend to go overboard trying to spread the word or sway others. We need a better way to get our point across that is slightly less annoying than drowning people with a concept and turning them away completely. Even those of us who try to live life with more sustainability are annoyed by those spouting the “party line”. It’s just as bad as listening to politics during an election season.

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