The business community is wary of consumer fads, and well it should be. We consumers, after all, are notoriously fickle. I’ve got ties I wore proudly five years ago that look ridiculous today, and I’ll bet you have more than a few fashion skeletons in your closet as well.
Now, some businesses view sustainability and sustainable packaging as the latest industrial version of the leisure suit, but I believe these issues are not trends at all, but represent a very long term change in the market’s values and priorities. Here’s why.
- Broad based market awareness. Americans are more informed than ever about environmental issues. Knowledge is a one-way street — once you have it, it doesn’t just disappear.
- Generational values. The younger you are, the more environmental issues are a part of your natural mental fabric. Once ideas are woven in, they are not likely to unravel.
- $4.00/gallon gasoline. Concepts such as “carbon footprint” and “carpooling” and “battery powered” become much less theoretical when non-sustainability becomes a top of mind pocketbook issue. Global supply and demand for energy indicate the issue will get worse before it gets better.
- New president. Whether we have a President McCain or a President Obama, we will have a more sustainable-minded administration than we do today. For better or worse, presidents shape values.
- New Congress. With big Democratic majorities likely this fall, it’s just as likely we will see more environmental regulation by next spring. Like it or not, here it comes, and business will have to adapt (and it will, successfully, as it always does).
How do you see it? Are there other reasons why sustainability is here to stay? Can you see any reasons why it may not be here to stay?