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Sustainable industries

The earliest mention of the phrase sustainable industries appeared in 1990 in a story about a Japanese group reforesting a tropical forest to help create sustainable industries for the local populace. (Dietrich, Bill. "Our Troubled Earth – Japan." The Seattle Times. November 13, 1990. Page F-2.) Soon after, a study entitled “Jobs in a Sustainable Economy” by Michael Renner of the Worldwatch Institute was published, using the term sustainable industries. (1991)

This 1991 report concluded, "Contrary to the jobs-versus-owls rhetoric that blames environmental restrictions for layoffs, the movement toward an environmentally sustainable global economy will create far more jobs than it eliminates. The chief reason: non-polluting, environmentally sustainable industries tend to be intrinsically more labor intensive and less resource intensive than traditional processes." While the conclusion may be subject to some debate, it nevertheless formed an important foundation of the sustainability movement.

In 1991, sustainable industry was discussed in a paper from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It said, "The concept of sustainability first emerged regarding agricultural policy. Sustainable farming aims to lessen the need for chemical pesticides and fertilizers in favor of practices that work with natural ecological cycles to improve the soil and increase the pest resistance of plants." Among the features of sustainable industry offered in the paper were energy efficiency, resource conservation to meet the needs of future generations, safe and skill-enhancing working conditions, low waste production processes, and the use of safe and environmentally compatible materials.