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Definitions of sustainable business and production

Paul Hawken
"Sustainable businesses:
  • Replace nationally and internationally produced items with products created locally and regionally.
  • Take responsibility for the effects they have on the natural world.
  • Do not require exotic sources of capital in order to develop and grow.
  • Engage in production processes that are human, worthy, dignified, and intrinsically satisfying.
  • Create objects of durability and long-term utility whose ultimate use or disposition will not be harmful to future generations.
  • Change consumers to customers through education."

Paul Hawken. The Ecology of Commerce. (New York, New York: Harper Business, 1993), p 144.

Lowell Center for Sustainable Production
"Sustainable Production is the creation of goods and services using processes and systems that are: non-polluting; conserving of energy and natural resources; economically efficient; safe and healthful for workers, communities, and consumers; and, socially and creatively rewarding for all working people."

Principles of Sustainable Production
Products and services are:
  • safe and ecologically sound throughout their life cycle;
  • as appropriate, designed to be durable, repairable, readily recycled, compostable, or easily biodegradable;
  • produced and packaged using the minimal amount of material and energy possible. 

Processes are designed and operated such that:

  • wastes and ecologically incompatible byproducts are reduced, eliminated or recycled on-site;
  • chemical substances or physical agents and conditions that present hazards to human health or the environment are eliminated;
  • energy and materials are conserved, and the forms of energy and materials used are most appropriate for the desired ends;
  • work spaces are designed to minimize or eliminate chemical, ergonomic and physical hazard.

Workers are valued and:

  • their work is organized to conserve and enhance their efficiency and creativity;
  • their security and well-being is a priority;
  • they are encouraged and helped to continuously develop of their talents and capacities;
  • their input to and participation in the decision making process is openly accepted.

Communities related to any stage of the product lifecycle (from production of raw materials through manufacture, use and disposal of the final product) are respected and enhanced economically, socially, culturally and physically.

Continued economic viability does not depend on ever-increasing (i.e., unsustainable) consumption of materials and energy.
Adapted from Lowell Center for Sustainable Production