Why sustainability is frustrating V3

Why sustainability is… frustrating

Sustainability can mean many things to many folk. But one thing most people can agree on is that it has become a frustrating concept.

We’re about to let out some of the main reasons why in this post.

By the way, none of this means sustainability’s not important. It’s vital! But acknowledging the problems helps to make the s-word more meaningful – and less of an emerging expletive.


Perfectionism is a trap.

Perfect sustainability prevents progress, forbids mistakes, and struggles to forgive – which elicits greenhushing. “You can’t get to wonderful without getting through alright!” (Bill Withers).

Gloom halts growth.

All the doom and gloom doesn’t inspire people – and can inhibit action. A more sustainable future is critical, yet the message needs more humor, optimism, and lightness 💫.

Innovation conundrums.

Sustainability is hard. Just ask Lego, who spent ages reshaping their bricks from recycled materials only to measure that the new bricks’ carbon emissions were higher. Oh boy…

The green divide.

Sustainable options = pricier tags. Sustainability should become more inclusive and equitable. How can change happen if only those with capacious pockets can make kinder choices?

Systems, not folk.

Did you know that BP coined the term “carbon footprint”? Talk about gaslighting, while some of the world’s inveterate climate offenders spend millions lobbying against climate action.

Mine, all mine!

There’s a frustrating lack of collaboration in the sustainability community. Perhaps this is because people feel the thing so personally but it has to be shared to grow and succeed.

And now… greenhushing.

First there was greenwashing, aka lying. And now there’s also greenhushing, aka shyness. Brands that were roaring about sustainability before have started squeaking, nervously.

It feels like satire.

Take COP28. It only took three decades of community efforts for world leaders to consider a fossil fuel phase out. 24 hours later, headlines on record oil investments appeared.

Where’s the impact?

Sustainability has been a global phenomenon since the 1970s. Yet the latest IPCC report has revealed that greenhouse gas emissions keep going up – reaching their highest-ever levels.

The AI dilemma

AI has entered the arena of sustainability, in a confusing way. Is it going to help? Or is it going to hinder? Or maybe both! And thus we have another fancy new frustration to add to the list.

A melting iceberg.

To many folk, sustainability is about CO2 emissions. Yet, there’s a lot beneath the surface: biodiversity, regeneration, fairness, and plenty more. But can all of that stay afloat?

The alternative is beyond frustrating. So what to do?

You could get in touch with Akepa if you’re struggling to communicate sustainability and we can try to overcome the frustrations together…

Otherwise, here’s a snappy list: Accept imperfection. Stay optimistic. Collaborate. Pioneer. Persevere. Have hard conversations. Dig deeper. Don’t lie and don’t be shy. Be patient. Say something else. Over to you.

Frustrated by something that we haven’t mentioned? Then let it out in the comments because we’ve barely scratched the surface.

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Akepa | Digital marketing agency for sustainable brands

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