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Joel Makower on Why Businesses Are Greening Quietly

If your company were taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable practices, you’d probably be shouting it from the rooftops, right? Actually, says editor Joel Makower, it turns out that many companies are keeping quiet about the green things they are doing that nonetheless are having significant impact. “Green stories are hard stories to tell,” says Makower. He says that when a company like Levi Strauss trumpets that 2% of the cotton that they’re using is now organic they risk drawing attention to the 98% that isn’t.

In his Big Think interview, Makower also spoke about the responsibility of companies to make products in a way that promotes a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. While there’s only so much companies can to to help people eat and live better, there is still ample space for them to use their influence.

“Companies have a tremendous communications cloud,” he says. “And a lot of companies I talk to say: ‘Well, customers aren’t demanding that. We’re not hearing that from the consumer.’ Well, consumers buy lots of things they didn’t demand.  It’s things that we make available to them that we convince them that they want.  And so there’s an opportunity here to help promote a lifestyle that’s more environmentally responsible. Probably healthier for families and communities as well. But they have to, as I said, be better products, or perceived to have some value beyond that.”


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