Sustainability and ESG are two concepts that are frequently used but often misunderstood. 

Many companies use these terms interchangeably, meaning they may miss out on opportunities to make their brands more sustainable or responsible. 

This article will explore sustainability vs. ESG, how these concepts differ, and how they can help your business achieve its sustainability goals.


Sustainability is a broad concept that encompasses environmental, social, and economic factors. It’s about the long term: what will happen to our planet, people and businesses if we don’t change our habits? Sustainability is about the triple bottom line—people, planet, and profit—and not just one of them.

Sustainability is also a way of thinking and acting, so even if you’re not an expert in the field, you already practice it daily. You probably recycle your plastic bottles; you buy organic food at the grocery store; maybe even compost some of your scraps. 

These actions help us become more sustainable as individuals because they reduce plastic waste in landfills (less trash) and support local farmers (fewer chemicals used).

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)

ESG is a way of investing that considers a company’s environmental, social, and governance issues. It stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance issues.

Social issues include hiring practices, workplace conditions, and benefits to employees. Environmentally friendly products or services are also part of ESG investing. For example, you may want your investments to go towards solar energy companies or electric cars instead of traditional fossil fuels like coal or oil, which cause pollution in our environment. ESG investors can choose not to invest in companies with poor records regarding these things (e.g., not providing fair wages or benefits).

Sustainability vs. ESG – What Comes Before the Other

As you can see, sustainability and ESG both focus on long-term thinking. They are about balancing a company’s social, environmental, and financial aspects. They both consider the future impact of your actions and decisions today.

The History of Sustainability and ESG

The idea of sustainability has been around for much longer and is often confused with ESG. Sustainability efforts can be traced back to the 19th Century, with popular proponents including Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir.

Theodore Roosevelt was an American president who helped create the U.S. Forest Service in 1905. He also signed legislation that created national parks in the United States, including Yosemite National Park in California and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

The Evolution of ESG

ESG is a relatively new concept, used by investors and other stakeholders to determine whether or not a company’s actions are in line with its values. It covers three main areas: social, environmental, and governance (or corporate governance).

Sustainability is the broader term that encompasses all of these concepts. In this way, ESG is a subset of sustainability — a subset of corporate social responsibility (CSR), or corporate governance and performance.

Sustainability vs. ESG; Bringing Them Together

ESG and sustainability are related concepts. Sustainability is a broader concept than ESG, but they both look at how the company performs on social and environmental dimensions. In simple terms, ESG is one part of sustainability.

Sustainability is a concept that has been discussed for decades. It refers to companies that can create value for their customers while also being good stewards of the planet and its resources. 

Sustainability is based on three pillars: economic well-being, social responsibility, and environmental health. ESG expands on this by looking at how companies perform in these areas through metrics like employee satisfaction, community engagement, and product quality.

The Final Word

Sustainability and ESG are two concepts that are closely related and often confused. However, the concept of sustainability existed before ESG. Sustainability and ESG management are both concerned with the long-term health of a company and its impact on society. While sustainability is a broader concept, ESG management focuses on specific environmental and social issues. Both concepts have been around for years, but only recently have they gained popularity as important business considerations.

In conclusion, sustainability and ESG management are both important tools for companies to use when considering their long-term goals and how they will affect society. While these concepts can be used interchangeably in some cases, it is important to remember that they do not mean exactly the same thing.


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