Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Sustainability Question

While trying to determine whether or not it would be to my advantage to continue building my greeting card business as a provider of an eco-friendly or sustainable product, I've come across a few interesting things. My search began with first my own desire to be responsible to the environment (especially given the fact that paper manufacturers are one of the top water polluters out there), and a hunch that consumers might actually prefer to buy my product based in part on it's environmental impact (or non-impact). I was certainly inspired by the work of Aveda as an industry leader in sustainability, and by Melaleuca's ability to create productes from it's main (sustainable) ingredient – tea tree oil, but a friend asked, "How do you know that your customers care about eco-friendly greeting cards?"
This is certainly a valid question.
With the help of my trusty Google search engine, I proceeded to spend hours looking for "consumer demand for sustainable products", "eco-friendly demand", "sustainable statistics" and such. While there is no shortage of non-profit and consumer information sites that define sustainability, purport the value of buying green, and educating us on the impact we often unknowingly have when we buy that latte, or pair of shoes (and other stuff), it turns out that empirical evidence for this growing trend in the United States and how it affects a company's bottom line is hard to come by. The Dow Jones has a Sustainability Index, and there are a myriad of sites geared toward training businesses to operate sustainably such as Business for Sustainable Practice , which site the triple bottom line ?(reduced overhead, increased profitability, good PR) but none with any measurable evidence of the demand, or impact on a company's bottom line.

The most I've seemed to find (and am truly grateful for!) is a bit of news from NorthwestWatch.org blog
which gave me the following:

"An astonishing statistic from today's Idaho Statesman: 75 percent of Americans consider themselves to be "green," environmentally-conscious shoppers. But it turns out that of those 75 percent, only 10 percent consistently and actively search out green products and are willing to pay extra for them; the other 65 percent like to buy green if it's convenient and no more expensive than the alternative."

I don't mean to say here that there is NO proven value in operating or purchasing sustainably, and making responsible choices in life and business practice, but if there were such a study with dollar signs attached, I would bet businesses old and new would be lining up to cash in on saving the planet and its people. As much as I've managed to find in a few hours about demand and guidelines in the US, clearly the EU is leading the way in this department and I suspect (hope?) that there will be a tipping point in our near future as the wave started across the pond hits the US. In the mean time, I'm going to do what I can to build sustainability into my business anyway.

3 Comments:

Blogger Shangrala said...

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4:43 PM  
Blogger slytyguy said...

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4:59 PM  
Blogger totalvo said...

cool blog..keep posting bean

10:40 AM  

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