Posted on November 18, 2008 by Dennis Salazar

Sustainability and MBE Firms – Room for Improvement

mbe packaging diversity

During my recent travels and conventioneering, I noticed that MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) firms are seriously underrepresented in the world of sustainability, especially when it comes to sustainability and MBE packaging firms. Here are a few cases in point.

  • Four weeks ago I attended the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Conference in Las Vegas. We met with many large companies that work very hard to identify potential suppliers that are minority business enterprises. Few of these companies were flying the “green” flag, but when questioned, they revealed that their companies indeed had green initiatives – and they were high on the priority list. I am sure they were not trying to keep their green opportunities and interest a secret, because when we told them what we are doing in the area of sustainable packaging it became obvious they expected to find green suppliers at this national, yearly event. Yet, few of the MBE’s I talked to at the show were thinking “green”. Opportunity missed!
  • Two weeks ago I spent two days at the Pack Expo Show in Chicago. It is the largest packaging show in North America, held every other year. Overwhelmingly, “green” was the hot topic. It seemed almost every manufacturer of packaging equipment or materials had developed new eco friendly products or was working hard to put a green spin on their old products. And yet, very few if any MBE manufacturers or marketers could be found among the exhibitors.
  • Last week I participated in The Co-Op America Business Network (CABN) conference in San Francisco where I had the privilege of speaking and delivering a well received presentation on eco friendly packaging. Perhaps because my own firm is an MBE, I could not help but notice how very few minority firms were in attendance.

Minorities on the move

I see some encouraging signs. In Las Vegas I met people from a minority owned company called Sphinx Enterprises and they are actively involved in helping companies understand how sustainability can help them grow their businesses. In San Francisco, I found out about an organization called Blacks in Green that is also spreading the green gospel.

The minority owned media is also starting to take notice, and not a minute too soon. I have been communicating with the very talented Mitch Posada, who operates several sites for the green Latino community including, and At the NMSDC gathering, I spoke to several editors of diversity/MBE publications and they indicated they were planning or considering green features to their magazines.

Now is the time for sustainable action

Let’s stop “considering” and start moving forward. We all have to care and do our part or it simply is not going to work. We all have an obligation to get involved in sustainability issues because if we fail, it won’t matter whether we are in the majority or the minority. Why? Because when it comes to sustainability, we’re all green – or we’re all gone.