Your Favorite Brand May Be Killing Our Planet

Climate Change is real. For purposes of this paper, I will assume this is an agreed upon fact. Yes, there are uncertainties about the pace, the exact impacts, and how the changes will manifest – but it’s real.

So who’s out there stinking up our air with all this carbon? It’s the Chinese with all their manufacturing, right? Maybe the Russians – it’s always convenient to blame them. But no, it’s you. It’s you buying clothes, buying cars, buying toys, and using energy. Everything you buy or use comes from somewhere.

As noted in the NY Times article Industry Awakens to Threat of Climate Change, some companies are taking notice. Large companies are beginning take actions in their own economic interest which protect from variability in supply chains and raw material supplies. Governments are taking notice as well, with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development discussing carbon tax reform regularly.

This may sound like good news, but the political will and both social and business support for carbon tax reform remains low. But now that you know you can actually influence climate change by adjusting your buying patterns, what if we could organize consumers on a massive scale to purchase from companies using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and material sourcing?

A two pronged approach would be a step in the right direction:

  • Release an annually updated list of the worst consumer goods carbon offenders. This list could be heavily marketed and distributed. No company would want to show up on this list, for fear of losing customers – losing only 5-10% of their customer base would crush most large companies.
  • Create a certification and validation seal for the top 20% of companies based on environmentally friendly processes and impacts. These companies would have the right to put the seal on their products and could market their brands as such. Providing this trusted definition of “environmentally friendly” manufacturing processes would shed the veil of uncertainty in most consumer experiences. Without a trusted source of information, we really don’t know where our stuff comes from or how it’s made.

Not everyone would be moved to action, but this simple combination of actions would put pressure on companies to change their ways or risk losing customers. Or to use their supply chain as a differentiator that would increase sales.


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