We (Industry & Brands) have a habit of measuring goodness by highlighting the bad things we stopped doing. We think we are sustainable as we are polluting less, wasting less energy, using fairer labour. We are planning to do less bad and have a net zero effect on the planet.
This “less bad” attitude is just not good enough. The true measure of sustainability has to be about what positive impact our value chains have on the people our products touch in their creation and their use and their re-use.
We use only renewable energy is a step, but if it meant putting C02 into the atmosphere for the 1000 tonne concrete base of a wind turbine then it is really just less bad than burning fossil fuel. Planning to need less energy is better than finding slightly cleaner energy. It can take 30 years for a wind turbine to become carbon neutral!
What kind of earth do we want our grandchildren to inherit? I vote for a clean one with 9 billion happy people.
We get to Utopia by imagining the ideal planet and by building smarter value chains. We measure sustainability by what we do to reach Utopia, not by measuring the stupid activity we reduced.
We remember the athlete that wins the race, not the guy that went from last position to somewhere in the middle. We can celebrate success when the rivers are clean and the people are fed, we should not celebrate that we still have landfill, just not as many as we might have done..