Women are the Will; Corporations are the Way; and Sustainable Standards will keep us all honest. Every day more and more examples of that new economic model are revealing themselves.
Women are the Will...
BlogHer, that force of feminine nature with 76,000 registered bloggers, re-published Diane MacEachern's post on the front page of BlogHer. Diane's post had a disturbing title -- Little girls are worrying about bras when they should still be playing with Play Dough. In the post, Diane raises the question as to why this is such a prevalent problem. According to one study, one of the culprits could be Bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastics and the lining of canned goods.
Diane's post came after Beth Terry's post on Yogurt Containers and Snack Bags Made From Corn? along with a very detailed explanation of how Stonyfield Farms is trying to solve the problem with PLA packaging.
Yesterday, Andrea Learned chipped in with When Consumer's Get Beyond Green Packaging. She cites how much smarter consumers are becoming, mainly because they read posts by women like Diane and Beth, and then they ask the hard questions as well. She flags a warning to corporations that they had better be ready with the answers.
Corporations are the way...
The good news -- behaving in an authentic, (prove it) way was THE topic at this year's Sustainable Brands Conference. Corporations are the ones manufacturing, packaging, shipping, selling and (hopefully) taking back and recycling products. Let the competition begin for being greener than the next guy.
The bad news -- this June the supreme court determined that "corporations" are people too and can vote, but can't be stopped like ordinary citizens can. In short, corporations don't have to play by the same rules that hold you and me accountable to our behavioral laws, such as not killing or harming others. There is nothing to keep corporations in check. Some companies will take the high road, like those at the Sustainable Brands Conference, others won't. Hold that thought...
Brands such as Stonyfield Farms, Forbo, Ben & Jerrys, Seventh Generation and Patagonia are leaders in sustainability and corporate social responsibility because they were the first to take a stand for more sustainable product lines. They are now being showered with the kudos that goes with leadership position.
It's why I'm mentioning them here in glowing terms. I may die tomorrow, but my words provide these companies permanent, positive promotion - the holy grail of modern consumer marketing. None of them paid me to endorse them I'm doing it willingly because their manufacturing processes and social responsibility practices are making the world a better place.
Aren't a lot of men saying these things as well? Sure, and it all helps, but men don't have the circles of friends who buy things like women do -- 62% of those reading BlogHer have children living at home making them top consumer buyers. It's all about who's holding the purse strings and who do the purse string holders influence.
But wait, there's more...
While corporations are making the stuff and women are buying the stuff, we can't leave out those who are distributing the stuff and giving green credit to the biggest corporation of all -- Wal Mart. Without Wal Mart coming on board and reinventing themselves as the lead buyer of sustainable goods, we wouldn't have a snow ball's chance on a summer's day parking lot of solving the market tipping problem and with it Climate Change and our HUGE pollution problems.
Wal Mart controls its vendor list and those vendors also sell to other big box stores. Without items being available to mainline consumers all these great posts mean nothing -- we need both buyers and sellers working together to co-create the next economy.
In full disclosure, I'm not a Wal Mart shopper, but I do recognize the gift of peer pressure it gave the economy when it told its over 60,000 suppliers that they WILL become sustainable or they won't be selling to Wal Mart in the future. (Thank you, Wal Mart)
Sustainable Standards will keep us all honest
So far, so good -- we have consumers willing to act as buyers and megaphones of sustainable products. We have corporations racing towards the green finish line -- but which finish line?
There are HUNDREDS of sustainable standards covering individual industries (paper, wood furniture, textiles, electronics, food...) and more that are duking it out to be THE global, one-size-fits-all standard. Underwriters Laboratory has their ULE version, the Sustainability Consortium is trying to come up with a system, and WRI will have a new standard by December. [EcoLabel Index]
Even HOW you talk about your accomplishments is under fire, that where our government has stepped in and is releasing a new set of FTC green marketing guidelines in December 2010.
Once we have the rules of the green game established, corporations will know how to play and we'll know when to cheer. Luckily it appears that 2011 will be the year of the breakout sustainability standards.
Which standard(s) will win depends on two things, money and money -- consumer money and corporate money. Consumer money keeps the corporate coffers full, making their stocks go higher and that leads us back to those in charge of the purse strings -- WOMEN.
The emerging economy will be global in scale crossing all borders, affecting all international manufacturing and consumers worldwide. Money and influence from the majority buyers - women -will drive the movement. Corporations will respond by doing what they do best - compete for the dollar and the influence. Sustainable standards will become the new law(s) of the global, free market.
Keep up the discussion, ladies, corporate ears are open to a co-created market.