This article provides a critique of the Global Reporting Initiatives (GRI) guidelines, sustainability reporting (SR) guidelines and also examines their applicability to public and third sector organizations. The article finds that these guidelines promote a ‘managerialist’ approach to sustainability rather than an ecological and eco-justice informed approach, potentially causing them to fall into an evaluatory trap. This means that they do not contribute to sustainability. Since public and third sector organizations have yet to take up SR with the same fervour as the private sector, the opportunity exists to learn from the critique of the use of the GRI reports in practice. As such this article examines the implications of this finding for public and third sector organizations. A conclusion is that there is an opportunity for the GRI to develop guidelines further in line with existing practice to increase their relevance and utility.