“There’s no contradiction between a sound environment and a strong economy,” said President Barack Obama just under a year ago as he addressed Georgetown University. His message was intended for those who, despite incontestable scientific evidence, still deny that rapid climate change at the fault of human behavior exists. But through this affirmation, he also hoped to convey to this demographic – whose denial is primarily linked to economic concerns – the idea that working to slow the effects of climate change can actually benefit our economy.
One year later, though this message remains true, Obama has acknowledged that we are now at the stage where jobs are at risk as severe weather increases. Just last night in NYC, warnings of flash flooding dictated our behavior. Luckily the damage was minimal and the prediction was overestimated, but had flooding occurred, who knows what infrastructure would have fallen victim? Forest fires and droughts in other regions of the country follow the same pattern: constantly threatening our livelihood and more present than ever before.
We are in a different position than we were when that Georgetown speech was given, but the solution is the same. Green businesses and social entrepreneurs don’t exist because it’s “the right thing to do.” Everyone needs to get by, and that costs money. Every business endeavor needs to create revenue. The difference is that those who see the relationship between sustainability and economic growth see the bigger picture. Their visions include a shift in consumerism that benefits everyone in the end. Domestic materials and labor, a necessary commodity, personal and distributed wealth. Little impact, transparency, fulfillment. How could anyone object to these goals?
There shouldn’t be a divide or a choice when it comes to consumerism. There is no “us” and “them.” If every company adopted sustainable practices and provided products that are conducive to a healthy life, the shift Obama insists is possible, is not too far off in the future. Brands like the ones we support through Lux and Eco, who are “green,” don’t exist to appeal to one kind of audience and aren’t trying to be alternative. They are trying to be – and should be – mainstream. And they are living proof that it is possible to sell something that has full circle benefits. They are selling luxury products, making a generous profit, and giving back. But they still need support.
No matter where you stand in your political beliefs, no matter what your financial situation, we all face the same fate, and it’s controlled by our shared environment. Today is a beautiful day where millions of Americans will shop, eat out, drive around, and spend money. You can have these luxuries without compromising your health and your safety. That’s the key to sustainable business, the end result (feeling content) is the same, but the means to getting there are smarter, safer, and more reliable. Doesn’t that just sound better?