Commit To Being Green by Mark Elzinga
Companies that embrace sustainability will succeed.
November 11, 2008
Sustainability will not only continue to be an issue in the minds of consumers but will one day drive the very decisions they make. The companies that realize this will be the ones ultimately successful in the coming years.
For the sake of the planet's future, we cannot allow sustainability to become a fad. The earth is a closed "system" which is adversely affected by decreases in its renewable and non-renewable resources, as well as increases in poisonous emissions. Keep in mind that anything diminished at a rate of 2 percent a year will only be half as much in 25 years.
The same concept applies to anything that multiplies. With the widening consumption of previously non-industrialized third-world countries, the rate of exhaustion of the earth's resources has become even more accelerated - as will the emissions that follow.
It is this ever-increasing depletion of our global resources that has forced more and more people worldwide to finally realize sustainability is no longer a choice; it has to be a commitment. A recent report by the Critical Issues Committee of the Geological Society of America points out, "Our future now hangs in the balance, and we must learn to change the focus of our value systems. Change is always difficult - at times painful - and it will be those businesses that help the consumer, as painlessly as possible, to adopt the refocusing of their value systems that will survive in the coming years."
I believe that as energy and depletion of our resources continues to challenge us, the public will increasingly judge businesses on how they treat the environment, how they treat their employees and how they make their profits. A question remains, however: How do businesses that choose to adopt sustainable practices now in order to position themselves as leaders in the future, go about it?
Implementing renewable alternatives, such as geothermal heat, solar panels, wind turbines, biofuel utilization, anaerobic and aerobic biodigesters takes money. The bigger the facilities, the more money it takes. This need for cash and the transformations that will result will change the face of the greenhouse industry as we know it today.
In the next 25 years, you will see established greenhouse businesses begin looking to other greenhouse companies as an answer on how to generate more profits. Poor economic conditions and a greater awareness of the need to be more sustainable will drive greenhouse businesses to offer a more diversified array of products in order to survive. Mergers, acquisitions and takeovers of greenhouse companies whose product lines will supplement what the acquiring greenhouse businesses cannot provide will become commonplace.
Organically certified companies are a prime target as health-conscious consumers demand more organic food sources. Businesses that have the ability to offer an organic product line further entrench their position as leaders because they will be able to capitalize on the age-old income producer known as "perceived value."
Industry leaders of the future will one day offer it "all." They will boast a sustainable reputation, offer organically safe products and be diversified in their product offerings. Their designer growing division will be contracted by consumers to develop and plant gardens because landscape design companies have aligned themselves with growers.
Finally, e-commerce will fuel the explosion of income potential for future greenhouse businesses. Between their widely diversified product offerings, the ability to attract customers world-wide and the increasing sophistication of delivery options, the companies of the near future will be able to weather future economic storms more successfully than in the past.
The lesson here is that sustainability is just a continuation of the symbiotic relationship that has always existed between our business, our products, our employees and our customers. It's relationship that has just gotten better.