History of Sustainability - How Businesses Were Sustainable in the 80s vs. Today

Sustainability seems to be the word on everyone’s lips nowadays. From individuals that intend to lower their personal carbon footprint in order to preserve the planet for future generations by using their car less and buying secondhand, to companies that only use the attention that comes with it with the aim of improving their reputation and gaining more customers without actually doing the work, this practice is implemented in various ways. As everything changes over time, it’s interesting to compare the practices that were in place in the 1980s with those that businesses use today.

How businesses were sustainable in the ‘80s

Before getting into the 1980s, it should be noted that non-governmental environmental groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth came into prominence during the ‘70s. They entered into some world-famous confrontations that brought attention to the importance of the planet’s preservation.

In the United States, the 1980s saw business growth in different sectors, with a focus put on wealth and consumption. While most companies only looked for a way to make the most money, there were also individuals that wanted to start green businesses. These were typically founded by hippies from the 1960s that finally found their footing two decades later. Eco-friendly brands like Whole Foods, Seventh Generation, and The Body Shop are just some that trace their beginnings to this era.

They started their companies because it felt like the right thing to do and not due to market or consumer demand. Over time, they expanded from niche markets to a wide audience, as there were interested parties that cared about the Earth even in the ‘80s. The 1988 book The Green Consumer Guide by John Elkington and Julia Hailes identified this consumer trend and detailed the makeup of various food, cleaning, and gardening products. It also included tips for homemade green products and shopping lists.

Toward the end of the decade, companies of all sizes tried to make the most of their interest in green products. The number of eco-friendly products doubled and those that didn’t meet the sustainability standards faced criticism. For instance, McDonald’s packaging came under fire and the company announced, in 1990, that they were starting to use paper-based alternatives instead of polystyrene clamshells. Seeing as how there were also organizations that were raising the question of environmental issues which didn’t see profit as the primary concern, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

How businesses are sustainable today

Jump ahead four decades and the situation is not that different at first glance.

There are still companies that mostly focus on their profits, without much regard for the planet. There are also those that use green branding to attract customers and build a reputation, without actually doing any work. Some big names like H&M have recently been called out on their actions and responded by apparently changing their approach.

On the other hand, there are businesses that understand the importance of community and how essential it is to work with people in order to preserve the planet. For instance, SkyCity Online Casino has implemented a sustainability strategy that has the goal of building a safe, vibrant, and respectful society. In addition to supporting charities that focus on planting native trees and cleaning up the oceans, they also work with organizations that help patients with blood cancer and leukaemia. They are aware of the fact that what we see, smell, and breathe affects every aspect of our lives, which is why they are working with charities that can make genuine changes.

Other things that companies have been doing include lowering their general carbon footprint by using locally sourced materials, minimizing shipping, changing their packaging practices, using renewable energy sources, and so much more. Another big example is Formula 1, which intends to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030. While they are minimizing single-use plastic use, developing sustainable fuel, and rethinking their travel logistics, they are still making a significant impact by having back-to-back race weekends all over the world, which entails plenty of travel for all the teams involved.

Consumers that care about the planet are becoming savvier when it comes to figuring out how green a business actually is, which makes it easy to choose who to do business with. What is more, people are not afraid to speak up against companies that seem to be presenting themselves as green even though they are not.

While some practices have changed over time, it’s clear to see that companies still have a long way to go. Sustainability is more important than ever before and everyone needs to play their part.

Post a Comment


Close Menu