Let’s be honest: real sustainability may not make business sense

Considerations such as ‘what do you really care about’ and ‘who do you serve’ should be drivers of sustainability, not profit

Charles Eisenstein
Wednesday 8 January 2014

The business case for sustainability draws on several core arguments. Pro-environmental practices create positive brand associations among consumers, politicians, and regulators. They also anticipate regulatory trends and position the company favourably when such policies become law. The mentality that seeks to further efficiency in materials and waste carries over into other realms. Similarly, the innovation required to overcome environmental challenges promotes innovation generally. And employees have higher morale when they believe in what their company is doing.

Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, the interests of profit blatantly conflict with the interests of people and planet, at least according to any reasonable calculation. What would happen to your company’s bottom line if it switched over to a green electricity supplier at twice the cost? What would happen if it insisted on using only fair trade products – throughout the supply chain? We’re not talking about cosmetic changes like recycled paper in the copiers or bike racks in the parking lot.

This doesn’t mean to ignore business realities and throw caution to the wind. It means to take the next, slightly scary, slightly outrageous, next step. It is the step for which there is no credible “business case.” It comes from a different motive….There will always be a next step that doesn’t make sense by the numbers.

Herein lies a very different sort of “business case” for sustainability. It comes from questions like, “Who are you, really?” “What do you care about?” and, “What do you serve?” From a deep consideration of such questions, courage is born.

[Excerpt. Read full article at The Guardian]