The Word ‘Green’ and Sustainability

Image: Grass. Source: Public Domain.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word ‘green’ evolves from the Middle English grene, from Old English grēne; akin to Old English grōwan to grow and its first known use was before the 12th century.

‘Green’ typically refers to a hue of the spectrum that lies between yellow and blue on the colour spectrum and contains the lightness and saturation found in grass and emeralds. This colour has always been associated with that of foliage and nature. It is a colour associated with hope, rebirth, growth, sickness, youth, naivety, envy and jealously and the devil. This is a colour with a long history of passionate imagery.

Since then, the colour ‘green’ has since become used as a synonym for environmentalism and sustainability, because of its association with nature, health and growth. ‘Green’ evokes the enthusiasm of a social political movement that recognizes global awareness, environmental protection and social responsibility. For example, the Green Party is made of various political parties that emphasize ecology, social justice and grassroots democracy in all their campaigns.

Peter Senge, a Senior Lecturer of Behavioural and Policy Sciences at the MIT Sloan School of Management states that in essence, the idea of sustainability means “paying attention to very fundamental needs—food, water, energy, and the waste and toxicity they produce, and the fact that the world really is becoming more and more of a village and villages don’t live with 5 percent of the people with 70 percent of the wealth or 15 percent with 80 percent of the wealth, whatever numbers you want to look at.” Sustainability and ‘green living’ refers to a whole new way of thinking about the world that places emphasis on social awareness, healthier lifestyles, environmental stewardship, low impact building, making use of the best available resources and much more.

The word ‘green’ referring to sustainability has assimilated into everyday usage, pop culture, marketing strategies and even corporate culture. In additional to its primary definitions and historical references, it now holds another strong connection with that of sustainable living and environmentalism.


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