Given two courses of action a1 and a2, there exist times such that we can classify action a1 as more sustainable than a2 (relatively speaking).
Suppose that one of the two actions is to put peanut butter jars in the trash. By "trash", I mean that the contents of the trash bin will be transported to a landfill or garage dump. In this context, the phrase "put in the trash" does not have the same meaning, or association with touchable visual objects, as put "put in a recycling bin"
What action is more sustainable than "put the peanut butter jar in the trash"?
I am writing in terms of relativistic comparisons on human behaviors regarding peanut butter jars, not absolutes.
This relativistic sustainability concept is related to ordered sets.
Ordered sets are related to idea that 10 < 17, or 3 less than 9.
Consider the following sequence of tasks:
SML = (form plastic pellets from stock, compress plastic pellets inside auger until molten, mold molten pellets into a peanut butter jar)
BIG = (refine petroleum into plastic stock, form plastic pellets from stock, compress plastic pellets inside auger until molten, mold molten pellets into a peanut butter jar)
One set of tasks is smaller than the other set of tasks. SML ⊂ BIG. We so not need to sum up total energy expended when the set of tasks in one procedure is a subset of the tasks in the other procedure. In other cases, we can compare only the things which are different in terms of ordered sets or less-than-or-equals binary relations.( ≤ ). Composting a banana peel is more environmentally friendly than throwing the banana peel into a trash can, relativistically speaking caeteris paribus. In this context, "caeteris paribus" means that you do not drive a car with a banana peel from Los Angeles, CA to Denver, Colorado in order to out the banana peel inside of a composting bin. All bananas are transported long distances using fossil fuels, but which practice is more environmentally friendly (relatively speaking), when it comes to peanut butter jars than putting the jar in the trash?