The Next Generation Entrepreneurs
Take a Leap. Make a difference.
These days, nobody can truthfully deny the need for sustainable business practices. Even those concerned solely about their bottom line – and not the fate of the planet – recognize that the viability of business itself depends on the resources of healthy ecosystems. Stable markets require freshwater availability, clean air, robust biodiversity, and productive land – and, fortunately, most of us also care about these things directly.
Despite this, we have collectively acted quite slow when it comes to reducing damages that business-as-usual does to the world. Admirable companies have launched inspiring initiatives, but the negative impacts of overall business activity still continues to grow.
The problem is simple: it is still generally cheaper to buy products that have worse impacts on the environment than equivalent environmentally-conscious products. Higher costs to the planet do not directly translate to higher prices for the customer – at least not yet. Of course, this is largely because businesses are rarely obliged to pay for the full environmental toll of their operations. Since many of these impacts have been hard to gauge with any precision—or to assign to individual businesses with objective fairness—their costs have remained external for every business involved.
But what if those externalized costs could be quantified and assigned? What if we could get to the point where the lowest-priced products were also the ones doing the least harm to the planet and society? In such a scenario, bargain hunting consumers would align perfectly with business practices that sustain a healthy and just world, with powerful market forces actually serving sustainability goals. This is not a flash of brilliance on our part—it is what sustainability theorists have said all along. “True cost accounting” has long been the holy grail of the movement.
- Yvon Chouinard, Jib Ellison, Rick Ridgeway