A well-known author, journalist, and marketing consultant who focuses on marketing communication strategies for the printing industries and who often writes on sustainability in the textile industry, recently published an article about whether we’re really serious about saving the planet.

In the introduction she suggests that we’re not doing well in the attempt to meet the sustainability goals set for 2030. In fact, she says that “It’s a little shocking and scary!” Interestingly, this is the same journalist that made a mess of an article on glitter as a microplastic by referencing ‘biodegradable’ glitter for cosmetic products in an article about microplastics in garment decoration—but that’s a tale for another day. The issue I have with her this time is her focus on the planet.

By all accounts, it’s true that we’re not doing well in the sustainability drive. And it may be because of the way we talk about saving the planet. What we should be saying is that it’s about saving ourselves. The planet has been here through thick and thin for four-and-a-half billion years, We’ve only been here for the most recent 200,000 years. The planet is going nowhere. It’s our species that’s at risk along with the other unfortunate species we’ve dragged into this mess we’ve created.

So, maybe if we stopped talking about saving the planet and instead talked about saving ourselves, it might resonate with the masses upon whom change depends. It will make the message more personal and, hence, more effective. Likewise, maybe when we’re talking about sustainability in a specific industry, it should be in the context of saving that industry’s jobs and profits.

The phrasing of the message matters.