10 Sustainability Trends

Walmart showing the way

Sustainability has really come of age  – akin to saying that an era of Sustainability 2.0 has begun. Companies the world over have at least agreed on one thing – climate change is real and is happening faster than expected. Bringing that change hinges on the elephants in the room – companies like Walmart. Why? Because when Walmart moves, it affects its suppliers the world over.

Here are 10 sustainability trends that we have seen evolve in the last decade due to major businesses taking the lead:  

  • Increase in the use of Eco-labeling and subsequent decrease in green washing
  • Carbon mitigation strategies and firms driving down the concept of zero waste
  • Move towards ethical and green Supply Chains many levels deep
  • Energy conservation – through water and renewables
  • CDM and Carbon offset markets taking firm roots
  • GRI reporting on the rise – from 20 to more than 2000 in less than a decade.
  • Development of metric based measurement tools 
  • Strict government regulations
  • Taxes on carbon
  • Use of renewable energy via solar and wind on the rise

There are signs all around us – from my ‘Pentel’ pen with ‘recyclogy’ written all over it, to the 6 wind turbines that have sprouted up in the last 4 years of my daily commute to work. Businesses have taken sustainability as an opportunity – as a USP over other businesses that are still contemplating over the question, what sustainability really means. So, when a company starts on the path to sustainability, it does so in a piece meal manner – in isolation.

Sustainability is a systems approach and silo thinking has to be removed. Sustainability is not a buffet – where you pick some things that you like and leave out things that you don’t like – in other words, adopt strategies that are convenient, increase the bottomline and doesn’t come in the way of growth and leave out those that are inconvenient, require culture change or upfront costs with long payback periods.

As companies become comfortable and conversant with sustainable business practices, they move from a buffet approach to a full course menu – a systems approach. The trends listed are merely an indication where the business is going and where it can lead.

Also, the trends mean that bigger players like Walmart and Coca Cola are humble enough to learn from smaller players like Patagonia. Also, it doesn’t mean that issuing a GRI report is an end in it self or using renewables is enough when you’re selling more consumption.

As, Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface Carpets likes to say – “We have gotto move from an environmental friendly sustainable company to being a environmentally restorative company – meaning, taking nothing away from earth”.

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Comments

  1. Elmer Stenger says:

    Improving our residential building practices will create jobs, as well as our dependence on fossil fuels. Technology has improved life over the centuries and will continue to do so. Older ideas and methods have shown the way to greater productivity, but we can’t stop there. New ways to create energy to power the future are the only way to overcome the stagnation we are in.

    The great need for human energy created slavery, Machines have changed that need to more energy requirements. which has led to unemployment. More education will lead to even greater innovations, but we have to maintain our commitment to that course of action. Remember the old quotation, “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a trail to your door” Science and technology are the way to a brighter future if only we have the fortitude to stick to our past reliance on innovation. The U.S. will again lead the world to greater productivity and greater health if we continue on the path our forefathers instituted

  2. Thanks for your comment. I agree with what you have to say.

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