Industry: Potential to Create Solutions/Problems to Environmental IssuesMay 12, 2021 · Aaron Burr
Because LastObject is a company for 😎individuals who want to better their impact on the planet, it makes sense that a lot of what we talk about is what we as individuals, or even as communities, can do for the planet.
But alas, the world is not ◼️◻️binary, it isn’t this way or that, and it’s never so simple. We can do all we can for the planet as individuals, as communities, or as countries, but all it takes is for an industry or some leadership to try and negate all the hard work we’ve done, and all our efforts could yield little progress.
And just as industry can provide solutions in a timeframe that many governments are unable to, they can also prevent solutions that society is trying to create for a 🍃sustainable world. Of course let's not forget, industry can also simply remain neutral by getting out of the way, while responding to the market and new regulation.
When society or a community wants something to change, they can put pressure on their 👨🏽⚖️governments to make that change, they can change it through the courts, or through voting. Change will happen this way, but typically not very fast. At least not as fast as we need.
On the other hand, if a society has a problem that can be solved by the private sector, a company could potentially create a product, or alter one within a year or so, where the government would normally take several.
The private sector also offers 🔎windows into where society is headed, and where the government can further make decisions. If more and more people are buying renewable energy sources at their current costs, maybe it makes more sense to subsidize these types of energy sources as opposed to energy sources that people don’t want, that are beginning to not have a great ROI, and are bad for the planet.
Additionally, companies have incentive to make more sustainable products because it almost always saves money in the end. And with the inevitable transition, the more sustainable a product is the more equipped it is for a transition in the 🔮future. Another good example is energy and how older sources of energy are becoming too expensive and inefficient. Because of this, cleaner and more efficient sources are more beneficial for the planet, the consumer, and the business!
That being said, many developed economies exist in a system that prevents leadership from making decisions solely for the environment. If they made a decision that somehow doesn’t directly benefit the company or board members, they could be fired...especially the CEO. So, there are limits to the solutions that a company can provide given the current system, but many solutions are possible, and necessary, nonetheless.
We’ve seen it from tobacco companies spending millions of dollars in advertising and lobbying. This money went to preventing people from quitting smoking, preventing governments from enacting legislation regarding smoking, and much more. ☮️Around the 1960’s, when people were becoming more and more aware of the world’s environmental problems, plastic companies were becoming more and more aware of the harm that plastics have on the planet.
But instead of creating a solution to this problem, they spent 💵millions to confuse the public, lobby against legislation, and also push for recycling as a solution even when we now know...plastic isn’t as easily recycled as the industry would like us to believe.
Of course, the fossil fuel industry spends countless amounts of money to prevent or stifle energy regulation, to further subsidize dirty energy sources, and prevent subsidies from going to the competition. Meanwhile, absurd claims like “clean-coal” are shoved into the public, or completely false claims of serving the health of citizens and protecting the environment.
Again, it isn’t that just by working for a company engaging in this bad behaviour makes one a bad person. There are many people in these industries that are doing a lot of 🧑🏻🔬good for people and the planet. Sure, there are those who intentionally care more about money no matter the cost. But there are also a lot of people who want to do good things and are unable to because of their board and overall system that they are restricted by. In that case it’s up to the government and consumers to create the change which they cannot make.
All in all, there are situations in which we will not be able to provide solutions for our world’s issues without help from certain industries. And likewise, there are situations where businesses that want to provide solutions but are unable to, will need the push from the government and their consumers.
It’s true, this post is about how companies can either help improve the world or help degrade it. But sustainability is never so simple, it can never just be about individual action, or just about governmental action, or just the private sector! Sustainability is about connecting all of these focuses, and using their strengths while acknowledging their weaknesses to create solutions to the world’s most pressing issue.🌍