With so much eco-friendly terminology out there today, it’s hard to keep it all straight. When you’re talking to your friends about the environment, you don’t want to make the mistake of mixing up sustainable with durable, right?

In this article, we will clear the air so that by the end, you will have no doubt when to use the word sustainable and durable when discussing environmental issues with your friends and family. 

Let’s get to it.


Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In addition to natural resources, we also need social and economic resources. Sustainability is not just environmentalism.

Three Pillars Of Sustainability


Ecological integrity is maintained, all of the earth’s environmental systems are kept in balance while natural resources within them are consumed by humans at a rate where they are able to replenish themselves.


Human communities across the globe are able to maintain their independence and have access to the resources that they require, financial and other, to meet their needs.

Economic systems are intact and activities are available to everyone, such as secure sources of livelihood.


Universal human rights and basic necessities are attainable by all people, who have access to enough resources in order to keep their families and communities healthy and secure.

Healthy communities have just leaders who ensure personal, labor and cultural rights are respected and all people are protected from discrimination.


Durable means able to exist for a long time without significant deterioration in quality or value.

What is the difference between sustainable and durable?

Sustainability takes into consideration its effect on the environment, people, and economy. It is less concerned with how long something will last than what harm it could potentially cause the planet, people, and profits.

Comparing with durability, which is more concerned with how long something will last rather than what the impacts are on the environment, people, and the economy as a whole.

Example of sustainable and durable

For example, say if a company that manufactures plastic lunch containers, we will call them Upperware, are only concerned with how long their lunch containers can be used without wearing out or breaking, Upperware is only concerned with durability.

If Upperware is concerned with how their raw materials are sourced, employees are treated, and how the container can be recycled or composted at the end of its life, then Upperware is taking sustainability into account when manufacturing its products.

This is not to say that sustainability and durability are entirely separate entities, they are not. Companies that practice sustainability generally want their products to be durable so that they last a long time and are reusable, not just single-use items.

Again, using Upperware as an example, assuming they are making a sustainable and durable product, their containers would be:

  • long-lasting
  • made with renewable resources
  • made in plants that treat employees fairly with fair compensation
  • be compostable or recyclable at the end of their life 

I hope this clears up any confusion between sustainable and durable. 

If you have any questions or comments, let me know down below.

Cheers, and have an awesome day!