by Darrell Nelson

The ‘naughties’ came and went in such a blur that it’s hard to believe that we have entered into a new decade already. Since Y2K we have seen a lot of changes in the world, and in particular a rise in sustainable business, despite a pesky recession doing its best to halt the progress. Companies from start-ups to huge international consortiums are now in some shape or fashion taking the responsibilities they have beyond that of simply the bottom line of profit. Today’s consumer is the most environmentally savvy customer markets have seen, and the shift in market dynamics is certainly starting to show that the manufacturers are aware of this. The shock that a company used to receive at being environmentally aware and running such things as CSR programs has now been reversed, and the shock now lies that a company can still be such a carbon belching monstrosity. So what can we expect in the new decade in terms of sustainable business and the green front? What kind of ‘green business’ resolutions are we going to see set to carry the momentum forward into this new decade?

“Green innovation is booming,” says Joel Mackower, author of Strategies For The Green Economy. “There is a confluence of new goods and services that will enable not just better management of energy resources, but an array of new capabilities that improve people’s lives while reducing their impacts.” With the advancement of more technology and reinvestment from the profits that this technology brings, we should start to see a whole array of green alternatives to processes that are having a negative impact today. Green technology has traditionally been expensive and out of reach of the everyday consumer, but in the next decade as advancement continues, coupled with government incentives and tax levies, we should start to see more and more affordable services and products in our daily lives. “And it’s not just about technology. Innovations in food production, apparel and footwear manufacturing, and many other industrial processes and feedstocks are advancing faster than most people recognize,” says Mackower. After what some have deemed a failure in Copenhagen, though, pessimists do question if the advancement and investment isn’t all a bit too slow as we fast approach the point of too little, too late.

In the next decade we will start to see a bigger increase in the responsibility of the individual.

In the next decade we will start to see a bigger increase in the responsibility of the individual. As the media continues to issue stories of deforestation, glacial melting, coral degradation, and general bleak scenes from a world on the verge of meltdown, we cannot escape a nagging feeling of our own sense of responsibilities. This will be seen more so within companies as well as sustainability becomes an issue that touches every division of a company. We will start to see HR firms using it as a tool to lure candidates in and also as an important tool for retention of staff within the company.

“Environmental marketing has become increasingly prevalent, and that trend will continue to grow this year,” comments Eliza Clark, a principal at Paydirt LLC, a sustainability consultancy. “A recent environmental leader study found that 80 percent of media buyers expect to increase their green marketing spending in 2010. As one 2010 example, Pepsi opted to forego its annual Super Bowl advertising buy to pursue an online cause marketing campaign.” As ‘green’ begins to appeal more and more to the consumer, expect to see many new and novel ways of companies grabbing the attention of the public.

How 2010 and the new decade will shape up is obviously an impossible task to call this early on, but there are certainly signs that things could be brighter than the doomsday forecasters predict. The crucial point is, however, that it will take a concerted effort across the board from governments, companies, and right down to individuals ourselves to make this decade a better, greener and ultimately more pleasant decade to live in. On February 4, will publish the third annual State of Green Business report, with specific measures of progress. A key indicator of how green business is shaping up, it will no doubt garner a lot of attention this year to see what is in store for the coming decade.

Photo courtesy Darrell Nelson

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