Blog Post #3 (7/21/22) – Is the natural environment a stakeholder?

What is your best/favorite example of a business or organization that does an admirable job at incorporating sustainability into its operations?

My dad and most of my family loves to shop from the company Patagonia. Patagonia has done an excellent job focusing on building their brand around sustainability as well as advocating for various underprivileged social groups. For instance, the materiel team at Patagonia utilized recycled polyester from already used soda bottles and unusable waste to create a new clothing line entirely. Patagonia noticed that these clothes actually performed just as well, if not better than previous clothing lines that didn’t use the recycled polyester. On top of this, in order to combat one of the most prominent issues in today’s society, plastic pollution, Patagonia makes a conscious effort to partner with researchers, scientists and even some other apparel companies to continue to learn more about what they can do. Patagonia is able to create and sell very visually appealing apparel that is fully recycled, helping them standout from the rest of their competition. In addition, Patagonia also has a “self-imposed Earth tax”, which is 1% for the Earth and provide support for environmental non-profits across the globe. Patagonia also looks for different sports ambassadors who not only use Patagonia’s products but help advocate for more attention to certain environmental problems.

Based on the idea of greenwashing (or another viewpoint or challenge against the idea that the natural environment is a stakeholder), what is an outrageous and/or cynical example of a business or organization whose sustainability efforts are insincere or even detrimental?

The idea that many “fast fashion” brands such as Uniqlo, H&M and Zara market their desires to promote eco-friendly methods of production when in reality these motives are a minuscule part of their operations. In reality, they are major contributors to large amounts of textile waste. The majority of textiles utilized by these “fast fashion” companies end up in landfill’s or are incinerated. These companies are being non transparent with their marketing and are contradicting what their supposed to be advocating for. Customers think they are supporting the environment when purchasing products from these companies, when in reality they are doing the exact opposite. In fact, H&M was actually signaled out by the Norwegian Customer Authority for misleading marketing as in their mission for one of their clothing lines utilized the words “sustainable”, “green” and “eco-friendly”.

As always, where do you think you will see this debate over real/legitimate approaches to sustainability versus greenwashing in the future?

This is such a prevalent topic in today’s society because so many companies are forward-thinking and want to incorporate eco-friendly/sustainable ways in their business but at the same time are faced with the problem that they think the quality might decrease of it is just not feasible with their business model. I feel that almost all companies in the future will try to incorporate some sort of eco-friendly/sustainability in their business because people are becoming way more invested in environmental issues and this is a great way to target the new generation of people who are more inclined to use a service or buy a product that helps the environment. With that being said, this debate will occur again in the future because companies like H&M as seen before will take measures to promote this concept of sustainability when in reality they might be contradicting themselves and actually hurting the planet. I do think that over time people will be more conscientious in terms of where they shop or what service they use and will force companies not only in the “fast fashion” industry but other companies to change their business model completely in order to actually become sustainable.