Just like that trendy backpack, everyone seems to have or those cool sunglasses, once you pick up on something, it’s hard not to see it everywhere. That’s certainly what it feels like with sustainability. From restaurants ditching plastic straws to e-commerce leaders doing away with receipts and packaging, it seems like this is a topic that’s on everybody’s mind.
As early as the Industrial Revolution, philosophers like David Hume and Adam Smith began to warn about the dangers of disregarding the planet and natural resources. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that governments started taking action and making moves, beginning with the first Earth Day and Clean Air Act. That decade also saw the beginning of marketing strategies driven by environmentalism and social issues/action.
Still, it took quite some time—decades, even—for corporations and consumers to catch up. In the late 2000s, some companies were starting to show an interest in initiatives like energy conservation and recycling—recognizing, in particular, that “good for the planet” could equal “good for business,” too. But those were truly just blips here and there. Prior to 2013 only 20% of S&P 500 companies opted to disclose their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) information.
Within just a couple of years, though, brands using sustainable marketing were seeing sales rise, food manufacturers and retailers around the world had pledged to reduce their plastic usage, and 85% of S&P 500 companies were sharing their ESG details.
So what changed for corporations?
Certainly, a lot of factors came together to create the “perfect storm,” but much credit can go to consumers (of all genders and generations), who started seeing what was happening to the planet and demanding change. Surprisingly perhaps, according to the Nielsen report, a lot of noise and momentum came from consumers in developing nations, like India, Colombia, Mexico, and Indonesia, where communities truly feel the impact of pollution—decades of waste, dumping, deforestation, and more.
In the past few years, with consumers and new government regulation squeezing them from both sides, corporations started to take stances and proactively pursue sustainable initiatives—for example, phasing out unsustainable products or packaging, updating their business models, and reassessing their supply chain and suppliers.
And as consumers and governments make more and more noise about sustainability, corporations are continuing to listen.
At Kornit, we’re trying to listen closely and do our part through:
One thing’s certain: The sustainability mindset is here to stay, and as long as consumers put pressure and work remains to be done, corporations can’t stand by idly—and that’s a good thing for our planet and for all of us.