By Elliot Hoffman, CEO and Founder
It is time that we all acknowledge that the conventional “business-as-usual” mindset asserting that sustainability increases costs, is a myth. It’s time to destroy the myth that sustainability is bad for profit. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Myths are stories we create to explain the world around us. They are meant for children and those who want to live in a fantasy world. Fairy Tales like Goldilocks and Snow White are harmless entertaining parables. However, the myth that the predominant environmentally exploitative paradigm is acceptable is quite literally destroying life and the natural world we are all completely dependent upon for our well being.
The sunlight of truth needs to be shined on the false belief that protecting the environment and life is bad business strategy. It is imperative that we quickly move away from this mindset that benefits a few financially in the short term, while destroying our world and our future. Our society is too educated and advanced to sustain this belief.
One example is climate change. When 97% of real climate scientists are in clear agreement that climate change is human caused and is a looming threat to all of humanity and life on earth, why is it that nearly 25% of Americans deny this truth and one of our two major political parties is essentially in lock-step denial?
Our military leaders, national security leaders, many industry leaders and even Pope Francis and other moral leaders are speaking out about climate change being an impending disaster. All assert that we must change our ways, fast.
In a recent poll taken by United Kingdom-based Ipsos MORI, as part of the company’s Global Trends study, 16,000 respondents from the 20 most industrialized nations were asked 200 questions around climate and the environment. The U.S. had the largest percentage of climate deniers of all 20 countries. Why is that? Is it ignorance, laziness, or an addiction to biased television “news”?
The fossil fuel industry, and its supporters in Congress continue in their efforts as “merchants of doubt” to veil the truth as long as possible, simply for their own short term profits, regardless of immediate consequences for us, our children, and future generations.
The mindset that sustainability is just a cost center for businesses is a worldview that makes it seem simpler and cheaper to be wasteful, when, in fact, nothing is further from the truth. The participants at REV Sustainability Circles have implemented Sustainability Strategic Action Plans, generated profits, and grown their leadership in the sustainability industry.
I like to point out that “the bad news is that we are the most wasteful society on the planet; the good news is we are the most wasteful society on the plant.” Our extreme wastefulness is a threat to humanity and the earth, however therein lies an enormous opportunity to reduce waste, and increase profits and well-being as a result. Whenever I explain this simple concept, I see a knowing smile appear on most faces.
Sustainability at its most basic level is reducing waste. Reducing the squandering of resources like water, food, energy, atmosphere, and human effort as well. The reduction of waste leads to economic and psychic benefit; it is as simple as that.
When we become more mindful and conscious of how we use our precious resources, there is an opening of mind and opening of heart as well. This opening changes the way we think and operate. It is not magic. There is a great power in bringing awareness to the use of our resources, being conscious of not wasting is actually uplifting and creates a positive feedback loop – open minds beget conscious behaviors, and pretty soon we have changed the way we do things. Changing our behavior and increasing our level of awareness about the consequences of our behavior is the key to a sustainable and flourishing future.
The earth and its nearly 7.4 billion people, and all of life, are facing enormous challenges, from climate change, water scarcity, food insecurity, energy insecurity, increased pollution, ocean acidification, and an ever-growing population clamoring to live the lifestyle of middle-class Americans. According to the science, we’d need 3-4 more earths to satisfy everyone.
Many of these problems have solutions, but we need action, now. The most cost effective, simplest and yet most challenging form of action is to change our own behavior. (I will give you 3 terrific, recent and easy examples of that in my next writing).
By creating business models that address the world’s challenges, your company can benefit customers, inspire employees, engage your suppliers and communities, and deliver sustainable and profitable growth for all your stakeholders and shareholders.
Our own company – REV – is a good example of the positive change a sustainable model brings. We try to maintain the highest level of sustainability and waste as little as possible. We are certainly imperfect and are always learning new lessons and tricks with all who we work with. We are proud that our team is comprised of people from multiple generations that all have a common goal; to bring positive change into the world through business. Business must lead. As baby boomers, generation Xers and millennials, we are all in this together.
At REV, 100% of our REVenue and profits are derived from working with companies, organizations and communities by bringing them the benefits of sustainability. These principles are proving to be profitable for all and help accelerate the journey toward a thriving culture.
The next time someone tells you that sustainability will cost you money, just ask them if they think that wasting resources is good for their own business, family and community. If they agree, tell them the facts and flash them your “myth buster” badge.