Locus Focus on 07/08/13

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Air date: 
Mon, 07/08/2013 - 10:15am to 11:00am
Restoring meaning to sustainability as more than just a marketing tool.


Every day, we are presented with a range of “sustainable” products and activities—from “green” cleaning supplies to carbon offsets. But with so much labeled as sustainable, the term has become essentially sustainababble, at best indicating a practice or product slightly less damaging than the conventional alternative. Is it time to abandon the concept altogether, or can we find an accurate way to measure sustainability? If so, how can we achieve it? And if not, how can we best prepare for the coming ecological decline?

On ths episode of Locus Focus we talk with Erik Assadourian, one of the editors of WorldWatches latest State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Possible? about how to make the term sustainabilitymore than just a marketing tool.

Erik Assadourian is a Senior Fellow at Worldwatch Institute, where he has studied cultural change, consumerism, economic degrowth, ecological ethics, corporate responsibility, and sustainable communities over the past 11 years. Erik has directed two editions of Vital Signs and four editions of State of the World, including State of the World 2013. Erik also directs Worldwatch’s Transforming Cultures project, which explores innovative new ways to intentionally and proactively transform cultural norms so that living sustainably feels as natural as living as a consumer feels today.

Here's some suggested reading about how automobile marketing convinced us to trade public transportation for private cars.

Peter D. Norton, Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008)

Peter Dauvergne, The Shadows of Consumption: Consequences for the Global Environment (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008)

Automobile advertising from Stephen Williams, “Report Predicts Auto-Ad Spending Will Grow 14% This Year,” Advertising Age, 30 April 2012; Michael Renner, “Auto Production Roars to New Records,” Vital Signs Online, 11 September 2012. 

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