Selling Climate Change

Corporate America and the nonprofit community are merging Together for the greater good – and what cause could be more worthy than combating climate change?

Together is the most progressive effort yet by businesses to directly link their environmental campaigns to the products and services they put out. The site pairs ideas on how to fight climate change with products by brands like Dell, Target, and Timberland (to name a few). One tip encourages consumers to use reusable shopping bags over disposable plastic bags alongside a picture of a trendy-looking, brightly colored shopping tote from Target – and even helpfully provides a link to Target’s online shopping site.

And while it’s easy to dismiss these efforts as just another PR campaign to drum up sales, maybe a glass-half-full mentality would be more appropriate here. Running a business is always going to be about the bottom line, to a certain extent, but if Together is any indication, corporate sustainability is here to stay – and not just as good PR. Companies are looking to think seriously about how sustainability fits into their long-term profits. Particularly now, in the context of an economic recession, these types of efforts are promising when cutting back on the “unnecessary” to save money is usually the self-preservationist tactic of businesses facing economic turmoil. And yet as Dinah McLeod argues, “Running your business in a sustainable way can be a key driver when it comes to attaining goals – not just when times are tough, but actually because they are tough.”

This new enlightened perspective on sustainability is in line with a recent Eye For Transport report showing that the “corporate mindset around environmental initiatives is changing, and the need to invest in innovative products and new technologies is growing.” Maybe they’re starting to realize that part of that bottom line is making sure companies even have consumers to pitch sales to in 50 years (business might be a bit slow-going when half the globe is underwater from melted glaciers). And they’re starting to realize this isn’t something that individuals or NGOs can do alone.

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