If you go to the mass retailers today, it’s likely that you’re going to pay more for sustainably designed, developed, manufactured and shipped products. In some cases, like my Timberland boots, the products will be superior in all ways that matter and the sustainable attributes will be an added-value. But in most cases the product will either be harder to find, quicker to wear-out or less aesthetically pleasing than the less-sustainable competition.
It’s tempting to point out the many examples beyond my Timberlands, which are sustainable without the sacrifice or the bloated price tag. Sure, they exist but they are the minority–a miniscule struggling minority. If we all start to question why, we can shift every product manufactured towards a more sustainable approach. Every product.
To turn the giant sloppy behemoth of mass consumerism and adjust the focus on proliferation of variation which has swallowed over every category, we have to do things differently than the niche green crowd. Specifically, we have to embrace consumer demand and submit to the retail reality that desire is what drives purchases—not fear and intimidation of repercussions. We also have to take off the hemp robe and cornstarch g&l lapel pin batch and commit to the belief that sustainable products don’t make you unique. Just like the planet, they are for everyone. Lastly we have got to stop allowing and making excuses. The technology is here, the information is available and there is no reason to have to give up anything to be more sustainable. The fact is that good design and teamwork can create products that do it all and still make money. Forget all the talk about compromise because they are excuses for laziness or greed.
So I ask the question why? Why can’t we make this shift—in our lives, in our workplace, in everything that we do. Why can’t every product be sustainable?