If there were an easy manual for sustainability, we’d follow it: western culture loves three easy steps, quick decisions, and technical fixes. Such a manual is great, for the right problem when we’re dealing with technical problems for which there are known solutions. But life isn’t a problem to be solved, and neither are people or nature, or sustainability... though we often treat them as if they were. Many well intentioned "sustainability solutions" respond to economic, social and environmental...
Do you know your supply chain? Most people don’t. Most people never think of themselves as consumers, producers, and service providers who use companies and businesses to accomplish their goals. But we are all active members of almost innumerable supply chains, and this has enormous ramifications for the environment. Most supply chains have little regard for conservation and regeneration—and this is as true for big companies as it is for individuals. Non-renewable extraction of our natural resources, non-replenishment of our...
Our current thinking about sustainability limits our opportunity to achieve the results needed in the short timeframe we have to turn the tide. We need to change that thinking and the leadership to do it is most likely to be found at the local level, rather than the national or global. Harness that local initiative, and the kind of big change that now seems impossible will quickly come to seem inevitable. Much of the current large-scale focus on sustainability is what those who lead change refer to as first and second order change. Consuming...
Going green would be easy if people were rational. Instead, even the most well-intentioned companies find that becoming sustainable is like a trip to the analyst’s couch. They find themselves asking “why are such simple changes so hard?” over and over again. It turns out that sustainability initiatives are often as emotionally difficult as they are logistically challenging – and companies that don’t take this into account are asking for trouble. Being sustainable usually interferes with how people do things...
The recent ecological disaster caused by the BP oil spill shortly after Earth Day is a reminder of the gap between the sustainability talk and the sustainability walk. The past 10 years of environmental awareness and activism have led to needed attention and some changes. Good intentions such as moving “beyond petroleum” made it into corporate slogans, but when it comes down to practical commitments, responsible action is less attractive than doubling profits. In the eyes of consumers and business people, green products and...
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