Environmental consciousness is experiencing an interesting chapter within the culture of American business and public life. Being eco-friendly has become synonymous with being hip, intelligent, young, and innovative – both for companies and the people that work for them. As a result, most companies on the cutting edge of this chapter enjoy great loyalty from their customers and a tip of the hat from onlookers. Adversely, the industries and organizations that are exposed for their lack of environmental friendliness are met with scorn and ridicule, not to mention a loss of profit directly related to the intensity of the environmental infraction. Just look at the stock of BP and Exxon after major oil spills.
This is for good reason. Environmental consciousness simply must become an integral part of every organization that makes an impact on the world i.e. – everyone. Even more incredible than the Green Revolution assuming such a positive light in the eyes of the public is the fact that it went toe to toe with a different revolution – one that completely transformed the way the world operates. The Industrial Revolution was born from a attitude that the earth’s resources (people included) have the sole purpose of providing a profit no matter the means. The Green Revolution combats this notion with remarkable ferocity.
Even still, environmental consciousness hasn’t won. At least not completely. For many companies and industries, all of the green initiatives and measures taken to protect the planet are an effort to be perceived as those very things mentioned above: hip, intelligent, young, and innovative, thus driving more sales and greater profitability. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although the underlying premise remains that even environmentalism in itself serves to provide more higher profit to companies and their shareholders.
So, what is to be done? Should all business and industries be bent and submissive to every environmental issue? I don’t think so. I don’t even think that is possible. What I am advocating for is a new type of environmentalism that is based not on the prospect of greater profit as a reward, but rather a sincere move towards environmentalism as an end in itself, rooted in stewardship of our planet and consideration of future generations.
At some level, I suppose we should be satisfied with any change towards sustainability, no matter the motivation. Why rock the boat worrying about why people do things? My answer is that the great cultural and technological leaps in environmental sustainability are never made by the people and organizations who are satisfied with “the least we can do to help the environment”. If we are to make environmentalism a long term and prioritized goal, the only way is through drawing from a motivation deeper than a marketing ploy for higher returns.
We all have spheres of influence in which we can make change, even though to us they may appear insignificant. My challenge to you is to create a culture and expectation of your team and organization that draws from a heightened sense of responsibility and advocacy for the truly startling state of our planet. Though difficult and stretching, this type of commitment results in efforts and innovations that have a greater impact than recycling Coke cans around the office and turning down the thermostat during the night. Rule29 welcomes you to join us in these innovations and sacrifices, and we are enthusiastic to celebrate the ways you will shift not only the physical landscape of our planet, but the cultural landscape of how your family, business, and customers perceive environmental responsibility.