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The Future of Green... Everything (Cross-Post)

(I posted this earlier today on my Fast Company Experts blog and was encouraged to cross-post it here.  I hope you will read it and contact me if you are interested in collaborating on this important topic) 

I have spent the last few days at the Sustainable Brands conference in Monterey, CA. The event brings together some of the most infuential people in corporate, nonprofit, media, and other key arenas for a conversation about how to operate in more environmentally efficient and appropriate ways and what impacts of the green movement have on marketing, branding, and the like. I was a member of the planning committee for the event and led a discussion about social networking.

(NOTE: I suppose I should make a disclosure about the fact that Fast Company was a sponsor - though I didn't actually have anything to do with that).

There have been a few interesting case studies shared, some new research discussed, and a lot of good networking conducted. It is clear that everyone here is interested in more than just being successful in their professional pursuits related to green and sustainability, but fully committed also to improving life on this planet as well. Still, I fear that not enough progress was made here in terms of actually figuring out what the future of green business and communication should look like. I'm concerned that there was too much looking back - reviewing who has been successful (and to a limited extent why) and not enough collaborative learning and problem solving about the major challenges that still exist.

I want us to make progress. I want companies and organizations to look at the challenges that face our world as a result of the climate crisis and commit more time and energy to finding real solutions. I want companies to see the environment as a business, moral, and other imperative - not just an opportunity to make money or please shareholders (and I am not saying all do, but there is definitely some lip service being paid to this effort still). And I want to be a part of that work.

I feel as if I have a pretty good grasp of the challenges that busineses and organizations face. I know what the work companies and organizations are doing around this effort looks like from the perspective of a consumer, a parent, an employee, a consultant, a concerned citizen, a blogger/author/speaker. I have something to add. And I am not along, there are lots of people like me looking to get involved.

So, I want to propose that we organize a real, serious effort to solve the big challenges — together. I want all the smart, aware, passionate, experienced, committed people who think the climate crisis is one of major challenges to work collectively on this. I want us to go beyond attending conferences and listening to eachother speak about these issues, and instead roll up our sleeves and truly collaborate. It happens a little already, but so much more is possible.

I don't know exactly what it looks like or what form it should take. Maybe it will be an ongoing discussion, a meeting, a summit, an online community, a few additional blog posts, a manifesto, a TV show. It may not require a structure at all to be succesful. Or, it might change structure to accomodate change in the marketplace. But it has to happen.

So, if you are interested in being a part of the solution, to working on these issues, to being part of something a little bigger than yourself, your company, or other group, let me know. I'll start collecting names, sharing them around, introducing people, and seeing where that gets us. And if anyone else is already doing something like this, I hope they will include me as well.

The Future of Green is about working hard, making tough choices, breaking down barriers, putting aside ego and organizational boundaries. It will take everything we've got. And we've wasted too much time already. So let's get started.

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  • james persinger

    I Have been thinking along this line since that last stock market Bump we had a few years back that came along right after 9-11.It was belt tightening time in most all companies,And I put my green hat on to see what we could do to save money right then,so Id also help my employees help the company save there jobs,by saving on operateing costs,and be able to absorb more damage,little things add up on a big scale such as lighting,all standard bulbs were replaced with the new energy efficent 14 watt bulbs,from the then standard 100 watt ones in use in offices and elsewhere,thats a lot of power in a big companyWe also addressed automatic lighting with switches and sensors.We also looked at Shipping ,and what was being disgarded,and what could be reused on products that are repetivly shipped back and forth ot just to the same areas,materials for shipping can become quite expensive on a large scale,And if you happen to have Trucks etc returning with no shipments or half full why not start a program by your hands on employees who can tell you from a hands on view what will be a workable idea or two ,and have a rewards program to encourage imput,Valuable imput,And not just a few dollars each in your pay check,Give them a choice,If it is something deemed to save the company quite a bit of money annualy ,Reward that employee handsomely ,Say Airfare and a weeks stay in orlando plus family tickets to Disney World,That will be a moral builder,Profit Maker by putting money you have been wasteing ,into your pockets,rather than the dumpster,And that little Vacation you gave your employee and his family will go a long way in building company moral,And having Happy employees that like and look out for the company becuase they are treated well will result in more profit alone and efficency ,Another simple Idea for say Grocery stores,We all love those little bitty plastic sacks the grocer loves to pack your $200.00 worth of groceries into,they split as you load them in your car,they put 3 or 4 items in each one,all your groceries slide out into the floor or bed of your truck if you have a few miles to drive home ,resulting in that fimilar oder we all have smelled a few days later,You know that has anyone seen that pack of pork chops odor?Only to find that pack of pork jerky under the seat a few weeks down the road.Well anyway ,the grocery stores are finally catching on ,offering Paper large sacks again as the plastic ones are petrolum based so the expence of them has skyrocketed like there fuel costs for delivery of all there products has,,Now they have a small small canvas bag ,made of some type of recycled material,They really just do not see it from a consumers point of view now do they??Instead of chargeing me 99 cents for those tiny bags that are supposed to make me feel good because im recycleing by reuseing them ,Make me a full sized bag,like a regular grocery sack,with the swen in loop handles on the top so they can easily be carried,by the disabled,elderly,children etc easily ,with out chances of them slipping,tearing spliting and ,the best part not having to make 10 million trips in and out of the house,then you would truely be recycleing as people would use those and bring them back to use rather than use the little plastic crappy bags most people toss out when they get home,Id love to see what one grocery store orders and what comes back to there instore recycle bins on those bags id bet 7% at best come backthen you have to remanufacture them,with the recycled full size grocery canvas recycled material bags,they will hang on to those,and re use them,And the grocery company would save money if they just gave them away with a purchace,or say a quarter per bag deposit,which you get back when you bring your bags back in,The stores expences will go down tremendously on bag costs .Then if you were smart you could sell your manufacturers companys space on the bags to run ads or your local bussinesses,schools,etc.Think of all that timber you will save,think of the enviroment,the benifits,Another green idea id Hydrogen fuel cells V.S. oil and gasoline,Our political canidates want to drill,drill,drill off the florida coast line,the artic etc,Big oil has been wanting to get in there for years now,Now they have an excuse an oil shortage,When was the last time big oil built a refinery???in the 70,s We need to cut off the funding for big oil who had record profits this past year and now wants more and more from the american people,Screw them,they had there chance,its time to take that money we have been giving them to develope more methods etc and put the tax breaks and cuts to an industry that will actually do something other than profit off the beaten down public.What needs to be done is a program of gasoline station upgrades needs to be started ,and started now,aggressivly like a war is on because actually one is on about fuel and which opec country is going to put the final nail in the USA,s coffin.So at first you upgrade filling stations with one or two pumps for hydrogen,and you start it on the east coast,west coast north and south and central america,Then you take that money you were giving big oil ,and you give it to ford,cryslerand any other car manufacturer who has had to lay off people because of this oil crisus ,and rehire those people and more to manufacture cars that will run on both gasoline and hydrogen like a flex car,as soon as you make these agressive moves oild will start to drop,and the speculators on the stock markets will run for the hills and lose there shirts in the process,too bad.And you put thos people back in the plants working on something that will hurt the oil companies that put them out of a job,And those Americans will produce some cars in a record amount of time,hydrogen cars the most avaliable element on earth.Hydrogen is safe enough there is already 200 cars built by Honda in calif running on hydrogen,the down side is,they can not sell anymore as they have no places to fuel them,Heres the good part,they only produce water as a by product .There so safe to fuel,They actually have a fueling station in your garage at home that also produces enough fuel to run the electric in your home,Imagine that ,Big oil out of bussiness and the electric company too??What no massive power outages from storms ,or too much usage,no polution from the power plants,and no bill.Trouble is,power companies and big oil have an awefull lot to lose,So they will and im sure have been throwing as many road blocks in the way as they can,I read where the power grid is so old and dilipidated it could fail at anytime massively Well screw that ,instead of giving us all a rebate check on income taxes or stimulius check,Give us all a hydrogen fueled home power plant that will fuel our cars and homes and that should save the govt big money,save the enviroment as water is all thats produced,and fix our decrepid power grid that soon someone is gonna have to rebuild,Everything is in place except the will to get this program started and someone is gonna make a lot of money if they can get rid of the gasoline powered car,and bring on the hydrogen powered one ,and the home unit power plant,there all ready being used also in calif,look up Honda Motors hydrogen powered autos and home power plants ,there is a whole website about what Honda has developed and has,Ford and the rest of them do not want you to know as retooling all there plants to produce a totally different product ,ouch And big oil will feel that sting.Who do you think has been lining the politicans pockets to keep this product in the backroom of Honda??? One guess.If a group of people got together and launched there home refuling and power plant that would refuel hondas new car and became the benchmark refueling prototype station on the ground floor,hum a few bucks could be made,And look what you would start and do for the worlds enviroment,Amazeing Pardon my spelling I was in a hurry,

  • Juan Alberto Aguilar Amorós

    I'm in Mexico and I want to be part of this... I'm sure that in the US will have some pragmatic solutions that could be done in here.
    WHAT's NEXT?

  • April Joyner

    Even though thinking about "green" issues has become somewhat mainstream, personally, I think the communication around sustainability still tends to be slightly elitist, very left-of-center politically, and way too abstract. That needs fixing first of all. I'm not sure I'd criticize corporate efforts on this front for being self-serving if they are indeed sustainable efforts ("greenwashing" is another story). At least improving the bottom line is a concrete result, as opposed to something like "helping to reduce carbon emissions." We've been told that's good, but the results of that are a lot less clear, than, say, helping to build a day care center. How does it affect people as individuals, as opposed to "the greater humanity" or "future generations"?

  • Tyler Adams

    Finally we are beginning to realize the essential necessity of sustainability for our future. "Green" awareness has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, but only now are we beginning to realize the full potential of our efforts. As Brian says, if we, as companies, consumers, bloggers and individuals are able to work together, we can help shape the future. If companies truly do begin to look beyond their bottom lines and treat the environment like a business then their positive impact on the future of sustainability could be greater than anything we have seen. It may be too early to tell where this movement is going but I'm along for the ride and will do what I can to spread awareness and see that it moves in the right direction.

  • Clive Harris

    Both as a company and an individual I am interested in what we can do and what direction we can go that is both productive and sustainable.

    In fact I have been trying to source information for green services here and what may be done in the industry locally without a great deal of feedback I might add.

    I think there is a general ignorance and lack of direction in an area that simply must expand and create ideas and use initiative by the many parties involved.

    Interested in how this progresses so keep me informed for sure.