Ecological products

How businesses can move from just green initiatives to true social good – Fast Company

Summary

Green business is booming, from electric cars to petroleum-free laundry detergent to organic bamboo pajamas. The green economy now accounts for $1.3 trillion a year in revenue and the market for environmentally friendly products is growing at seven times the rate of conventional products. From 2015 to 2019, more than half the growth in consumer packaged goods—a category that includes a wide range of food items, household products, and toiletries—was from products marketed as sustainable. …….

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Green business is booming, from electric cars to petroleum-free laundry detergent to organic bamboo pajamas. The green economy now accounts for $1.3 trillion a year in revenue and the market for environmentally friendly products is growing at seven times the rate of conventional products. From 2015 to 2019, more than half the growth in consumer packaged goods—a category that includes a wide range of food items, household products, and toiletries—was from products marketed as sustainable. And companies are not solely relying on their own expertise anymore but are soliciting the help of their supply partners in developing sustainable products. The payoff can be significant, yielding not only greater environmental benefits but also economic gain.

While many companies have made substantial progress in becoming more environmentally friendly, they have often been slower to address social issues such as labor conditions and worker rights. Tech giants Apple and Amazon tout their green initiatives but have been criticized for the grueling conditions facing their factory workers, delivery drivers, and warehouse employees. Starbucks has had a climate change strategy for nearly 20 years and aggressive goals to be carbon positive by 2030. Yet last year, reports revealed that young children in Guatemala were picking some of the beans that eventually end up in its coffee.

How can companies make sure they are socially responsible in addition to being environmentally friendly? As a professor at Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business who studies corporate social responsibility and green supply chains, I’m interested in how efforts to foster environmental and social sustainability intersect. My research shows that there is a spillover effect whereby companies that develop capabilities for environmental sustainability can leverage them to improve their social impact. In other words, companies can draw on their expertise in going green and use it to do good.

[Illustration: FC]

We’ve Made More Progress on Environmental than Social Responsibility

The concept of corporate social responsibility is often described using the idea of a triple bottom line, with benefits for planet and people as well as profits. While many companies have made progress on the environmental front, they have been slower to tackle social issues for a number of reasons.

First, in an era of complex global supply chains, it is difficult to measure and monitor a business’s social footprint. Environmental outcomes like pollution and water use are more easily quantified than discrimination and worker empowerment. They also tend to be more visible to consumers making decisions on what to buy. It’s easier to see the amount of plastic packaging on a product or check a list of ingredients than to know the labor conditions of the workers who produced it.

There is also less agreement on what the standards for social impact should be. Labor laws and cultural norms vary from country to country across global supply chains, and there are plenty of areas without clear consensus. The ISO, a prominent international certifying body, set …….

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90694972/how-businesses-can-move-from-just-green-initiatives-to-true-social-good