Sustainability, in my opinion, is critical thinking for the purpose of making sure our resources remain available in the long run, as well as satisfying our needs in the short run. For this reason, I do not feel that sustainability and capitalism necessarily oppose one another, because capitalism strives to both make money in the short and retain that business in the long run as well. After all, this is what is best for the rational individual. I think that it is very easy for people to say, however, that sustainability and capitalism are opposed because many take the narrow view that sustainability focuses on the long run, while capitalism focuses on the short-run.
In reality, the two ideas are much more complex than people give them credit for. Sustainability, in addition to preserving our world for the future, still allows for us to use a certain amount now. And capitalism, while seeking to maximize profit, wants to retain that profit for as long as possible.
In my opinion, this is where the two ideas intercept, and where we can find a meeting point. To run a sustainable business in a capitalist society may consume more money in the short run, but in fact, the company will retain a profit for longer because their resources won’t run out. Take tuna fishing for instance. This is a business that, so far, has been driven by shortsighted capitalism, with no thought to how this would effect them in the future. A person solely focussed on sustainability would say we need to stop fishing all together, in order to preserve the fish. However, a sustainable capitalist would point out that by lowering the quantity of tuna we fish today, we are actually preserving the resource, so that we can still be profitable in the future. I think there is almost always a sustainable capitalist approach, and we will be seeing more and more of this thinking in the future, as our resources begin to dwindle.