What is corporate sustainability? What does sustainability mean to you? Does your bank, your local supermarket, your butcher, your hairdresser, your clothing store or your local café have a sustainability strategy?
Sustainability is a word often used but often confused.
While some companies think putting fruit in the staff kitchen is an entire corporate wellbeing strategy, other companies think using organic cotton on a couple of t-shirts in a range of 1000 SKUs will impress their customers and they think they will sell more products, make more profit. They think customers will perceive them as being sustainable, as environmentally friendly, as caring, as hip, as cool, as doing their part. This is not sustainability, it’s greenwashing.
So what is greenwashing you are probably asking?
The Oxford Dictionary defines greenwashing as “disinformation disseminated by an organisation so as to present an environmentally responsible public image”. It’s basically modern day propaganda.
The concept of sustainability can be complex and confusing. In fact, awareness of sustainability as a concept only really started to grow after it was defined in a 1987 report called Our Common Future, by the World Commission on Environment and Development, which is part of the United Nations and also now known as the Brundtland Commission.
The definition of sustainability development in the 1987 Brundtland Commission report is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’’.
Being green is not easy and corporate sustainability is a tough racket. Let’s not forget that the core focus of an organisation and its employees is to create and maintain a viable organisation that can successfully compete in the marketplace.
There is an academic called John Alexander from Grand Valley State University in Michigan in the United States who refers to the “systematic condition” that affectively gives organisations little choice but to pursue initiatives that maximise profits rather than making decisions based on environmental and moral terms.
Do we need to abandon this purely economically driven paradigm?
Unless there is a remedy to cure the insanity of endless growth will the systematic disease continue to wreak havoc on the environment? The answer is probably yes.
However, there is hope.
This is a story that goes against the systematic condition of endless growth, a story of guts, a story of plastic, a story of very, very cool shades.
The University of Wollongong estimates that in Australia 400 million plastic bottles end up in landfill each year and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) tells us:
Join us for this unique and powerful story about Good Citizens, a company founded by sustainability entrepreneur Nik Robinson. After 752 days and over 2500 failed attempts Good Citizens successfully turned a discarded 600ml single-use plastic bottle into a pair of sunglasses. 1 bottle = 1 pair. 100% recycled.
This is a great story, a story of “un-trashing the planet of single-use plastic”.