Coro’s Blog: On Purpose

Watch and share Sustainability Illustrated – Simple, engaging, informative sustainability videos

Published on July 31, 2014

A guest blog by Alexandre Magnin, sustainability consultant and illustrator.

I’m always looking for better ways to communicate about sustainability, so when I discovered the Sustainability Illustrated YouTube channel, I definitely had to share it with you. It features short, animated videos that clearly explain different aspects of sustainability – and they’re free to share.

So, please meet Alexandre Magnin, the brains and brush behind Sustainability Illustrated:

Sustainability – our ability as a species to survive and thrive on planet Earth within ecological constraints – is arguably the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced. The complexity of the issues and the multitude of definitions used can create confusion, making the challenges even trickier to address. Taken alone, sustainability education is not sufficient to overcome our challenges, but it is necessary to make sure that we understand what we’re dealing with and make good decisions.

I have been working as a sustainability advisor for almost 10 years (with the international non-profit The Natural Step). I have seen first hand the power of a smart approach to sustainability to change people’s lives, businesses and communities for the better. As an artist and illustrator, I have also witnessed the power of drawing and communication to help people understand and learn more effectively. So, I decided to combine my skills to share what I have learned about sustainability over years of helping businesses and communities be more successful and resilient. I started a YouTube channel called Sustainability Illustrated. The purpose of the channel is to make the best sustainability knowledge and processes available to all for free.

The first video I created was based on a presentation that participants always enjoy a lot during my workshops: sustainability explained with science. This presents a view of sustainability based on natural cycles and thermodynamics  – using illustrations to make it easy to understand and engaging. Given the popularity of work like RSA animate and the Story of Stuff, I chose to use a similar “living whiteboard” style. This approach is particularly effective to make complex concepts easy to understand. I drew the illustrations on my computer while recording my screen, recorded the narration, imported everything in iMovie, accelerated the drawings, edited and synchronized the voice and there was my first Sustainability Illustrated video.

Sustainabilty Explained With Science

Since then, I’ve created ten more videos and you can now learn about common sustainability concepts such as the ecological footprint (one of the most popular videos on the channel) and the triple bottom line. I also cover more technical topics on sustainability planning such as the benefits of backcasting to adopt a different way of thinking to solve our sustainability problems, or the importance of systems thinking to adopt a holistic view before intervening on an issue. All Sustainability Illustrated videos are available in both French and English and are hand-drawn in a short 4- to 6-minute format so people can learn about sustainability for free in bite-size chunks.


Here is what you can do now with Sustainability Illustrated:

For more information about Alexandre Magnin go to

video - Ecological Footprint video - Triple Bottom Line video - Solving Our Sustainabiliy Problems video - Systems Thinking: A Cautionary Tale

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