The Most High Practice - Sustainability as the Premier Business Principle
We have been prompted with the concept of Sustainability countless times, and countless times we allowed the thought to leave unwarranted. We should not and cannot allow for greed to overwhelming dictate our decisions. It is after all, greed that is to blame for our wasteful modern production practices. I hope this article will demonstrate that we have the ability as consumers to purchase wisely and object to the corruption of our shared world.
Do we truly understand the causality of global pollution, and if change was achievable, would we act?
After careful consideration we can accept these several points as being self evident. We know that the world is highly populated, with figures reaching as high as seven billion people spread across many continents and nations. We also know that the global rates of consumption; be it clothing, fuel or food, are at an all-time high due to the sheer scale of the modern world. The massive economic infrastructure of producing enough goods for a single nation alone is astonishing. Too much for any single person to comprehend let alone influence. Corporations are a practical way to combine resources for the benefit economies of scale, to ultimately suffice the colossal demand of large populations. A willing rejection of the wasteful ways of big business by society is comparable to economic and societal regression. The industrial revolution paved the path to the future as we know it and also has the power to send us back hundreds of years.
The Age of Equality, Providing for the Masses.
This new age institution is a marvel in comparison to the old world of harsh inequalities. The organized clothing, housing and feeding of highly populous cities is a truly remarkable feat for the history of mankind. Certainly a great leap since the days of old and harsh rationing. The era of equality and sufficiency is upon us, but nothing comes without a caveat. Modern manufacturing techniques are at a stage in their development were they are able to produce in quantity but sacrifice in quality. Such goods are often quickly discarded for their deterioration and directly attribute to large scale pollution. While superior goods do exist, they are usually locked behind corporate doors and come bearing exceptional price tags. Luxury and sustainable products are similar to one another, but the concept of Luxury is often exploited as a marketing scheme.
The economic viability and the scarcity of resources place limitations on what we can produce and how we produce it, effectively dictating the distribution of high valued goods to wealthier nations. Under our current circumstances, it is entirely impossible to suffice global demand all the while employing sustainable practices. Our limitations on capital expenditure coupled with unyielding consumption, create a rigid system that is highly resistant to internally driven change. From a macro perspective it may seem that we are clothing the masses. While from a micro perspective, we are actively vying for market share and our slice of the profit. The capitalistic principle of supercharged consumption make the forces of demand more about units rather than method of production and gross markets are feeding the industrial chain. This begs the question, does the common person see a jacket as a synthetic material or a warm garment? Do they consider raw materials and waste production, or are they making a fashion statement? If no alternative exists and our decisions are based on branding then what is the truth?
Our planetary consumption is so massive that we must produce on a mass scale and with manufacturing techniques that seem to be developing at a crawl. The raw materials that are used to produce most products are considered damaging to the environment, but happen to be abundant and easily manageable. Global demand keeps the industrial chain running and the industrial chain fulfills demand. If fault must be claimed, then it must be the consumer that accepts all the toxic byproducts that are being produced during the manufacturing process. Although we are dependent on the end product we need not accept their toxic qualities. Poor nations with less disposable income are entirely unwilling to pay a higher price for sustainable manufacturing techniques. Fixed capital has a characteristic of lasting for many years, making common businesses unable to change. With such deep rooted fixed assets and unrelenting demand, we must ask ourselves if mankind is to blame and if profit is the true agenda. If the scope is broadened enough it may seem like a no win scenario and only a temporary fix, but we have been known to perform remarkable feats and shouldn't saving the environment be that next step for humanity? Imagine a world with net positive effect on the environment, where humanity is only in danger of unforeseeable threats.
The Deeply Rooted and Rigid Industrial Structure
One thing is absolutely certain, that the global manufacturing institution lacks the ability to unilaterally replace their infrastructure and uproot contemporary practices. Few large corporations have vowed to begin the transition to more eco-friendly manufacturing techniques, but their time frames are often decades away. The degree of organization required to produce such dramatic change is dumbfounding and the macro factors are undeniably complex. It is a marketers primary objective to actively "dress" a product or service to motivate purchase. Companies are known for advocating sustainability simply for the social implications, but without the intent to change. This is a direct contradiction to the overarching agenda, but they are hardly to blame. Although a jacket may include synthetic materials that are harmful to produce and dispose, they will always be branded to appeal to consumer demand. I reiterate that we have a conscious responsibility to take informed action and to drive change through our purchasing decisions.
As all major global issues, there is no decisive solution. The responsibility rests on all parties, consumer and producer alike. Could they be called problems if there was a simple solution? I argue that how global consumption fails to differentiate between two seemingly identical goods, undermines the meaning of sustainability. Most climate change experts would agree that the effects of global warming are undeniable and society is not so quick to react to these findings; heating, fuel and electricity are not exactly optional. Perhaps there will come a time when we admit that our inability to adapt has caused irreversible damage and this consequential sense of doom will begin the tidal change.
Taking Advantage of the Societal Implications
The importance of sustainable practice is well known around the world, because it is something that has been heavily endorsed by non-profit organizations. The media often circulates key issues throughout society, and these topics often carry strong sentiment due to their argumentative nature. Due to the immense popularity of sustainability, it has become a very well respected topic. All things sustainable carry a badge of endorsement and so long as the issue persists, the demand will also persist. These special circumstances are an opportunity for the forward thinking entrepreneur to gain market share and with little argument for the reasons "why". Sustainable and transparent businesses typically come with strong bargaining power. If we hold prices as equal amongst competitors, demand for sustainable alternatives will show little resistance to change. In plainer words, there is inherent stability in sustainable business, which is an unequivocally prized managerial objective.
Sustainable products on a whole have a higher overall quality and unique production techniques. These goods are generally of higher technical sophistication and this is noticeable upon interaction with the goods. They are built to last and are created using more environmentally friendly materials or techniques. The process of amending dated manufacturing techniques, generally yields a higher intrinsic value and greater subsequent customer satisfaction. If financially viable, these products have longer life cycles and greater competitive advantage. This sort of forward thinking is akin to risk management, and similar products are often considered ahead of their time. Admittedly, it takes some serious determination to deviate from the status quo, but there are many high functioning and sustainable organizations already in operation.
The Market is More Accessible then Ever
The incredible popularity of the internet and its infrastructure has made marketing easier than ever. Sustainability is like a low hanging fruit with major platforms like Shopify and Google making the market more accessible. The days of handing out fliers and out of the way billboards are far gone. We can now bring literally any idea to market. Whether your business succeeds or fails is beside the point, the liberty or accessibility to the internet is more valuable than any guarantee. Your reach is now broader and your ability to scale is supercharged. Having seen countless companies come and go, I have noticed that many products lack diversity altogether and are easily substitutable. Sustainability brings a new element to the traditional conversation and a new point of consideration for consumers.
It is our responsibility to be accountable for our influence on the environment and we should no longer seek out anonymity or diffusion as an excuse for our inaction. The spirit of entrepreneurship is more than just making a quick dollar. It should rather be a sincere commitment to socially conscious business. Though it may seem at times that the road towards a sustainable future is long, you will one day find solace in the resilient business that you’ve built. There is only one direction an aspiring entrepreneur can lead if they seek success and a bright future. That direction is down a green road.