sustainability as a commodity
How sustainability can be sold through the language of risk mitigation and resiliency
Today, we can look out onto Main Street and see the concept of sustainability essentially being polished into business vernacular, presented to the client, and ultimately sold…like a commodity.
Through this process, the mass media and the Fortune 500 have gotten their talons into sustainability in the marketplace. There are many positive aspects of that occurrence, such as: popular awareness, the competitive “me too” crawl to the top of the Sustainability industry, and consumer-buying power initiating better products in the marketplace. However it also puts purists in the CSR, triple bottom line, and conservation community on alert.
Sustainability, or as the marketplace refers to it, “the greening of anything”, has become watered down and down right confusing to the laymen given over promotion, the creation of various definitions, and often, anemic performance and delivery.
In Marx-Engels Second Edition Reader, Capital, Volume One , the definition of a commodity is “an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants or needs of some sort or another.” By this definition, sustainability is the perfect commodity.
Sustainability, at its most basic level, calls for practices that can be maintained and upheld satisfying the human “need” for property as a commodity. Evolutionarily speaking, all of our human needs: water, food, and shelter are necessary for survival of self and our offspring. Basic biology teaches us that at our most primal level, we want to further continue our genes, and in order to ensure a viable planet for posterity; a baseline level of sustainability is now required.
Then why isn’t every person who is in the business of creating value on the planet, from corporations to governments to schools to hospitals, actively participating in sustainability?
This brings us to the word INTEGRITY. If a sustainability-minded professional, whether they own a pet shop, are an architect, work for APPLE, or manage production at FOX, has the health and longevity of the end user of their product or service in mind then they can “sell” sustainability as a risk mitigation and resiliency strategy, guilt free.
Said another way, sustaining one’s health, one’s community, or one’s natural surroundings is a valiant and attainable goal. And it takes ongoing maintenance. Ongoing maintenance is what drives a capitalist based market. The purchasing of goods and services over and over again keeps the flow of currency in motion. Sustainability is the ultimate economic driver.
As the global population numbers grow and the natural resources dwindle, I imagine that the perception of sustainability as a luxury, and not a necessity, will change rapidly.
And, if its one thing humans, especially entrepreneurs, know how to do it’s evolve and adapt. We have faith and are here to support the process.