We are living in a world where we consume more than we can sustain. Sustainability is when a system can maintain or review itself continuously. Almost everything that defines our modern life is dependent upon substances from the lithosphere; and therefore are not renewable. When Earth’s ability to renew itself is interrupted, it shuts off the supply of clean air, fresh water, and food for future generations. These articles take the position that at the rate we are abusing Earth, we are headed for global economic collapse, disease, starvation, and violence. This all begins with unsustainable economic development.
Societal marketing has the ability to help correct this. Marketing ethics, that is, the study of how moral standards are used in marketing decisions, behaviors, and institutions, would say that it is a business’ responsibility to use this marketing strategy. Societal marketing does more than just identify and fill needs; it does what it also thinks is best for society in that it will preserve or enhance society’s long term best interests. Switching to societal marketing is especially important now because for so long the satisfaction of the customer has been used as an excuse for businesses to be unsustainable. The company needs to truly make a switch, not just green wash themselves. Green washing is when a company appears to be more sustainable or better for the environment than it really is. Along with this, companies also need to innovate in this area. When pollution controls, monitoring systems, and solid waste programs started becoming more widespread, many industries did not innovate at all, and then had added costs. This began the association that protecting the environment is bad for business.
There are three pillars of sustainability. These are environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Environmental sustainability is the preservation of an existing ecosystem. One of the first examples of this was when President Theodore Roosevelt helped to establish the world’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park, in 1812. Green products have begun to become very popular. They are products that are responsibly sourced, produced with fair wages, and are not harmful to the environment. Economic sustainability is the ability for the economic system to provide for human needs. There are two major parts that contribute to our unsustainable economic activity. One is the continuous decline in natural resources and economic services. The other is that we are continually increasing the demand for those resources and services. This is becoming increasingly hard as our country, and our world’s, ecological footprint is continuously increasing. Social sustainability is the ability of communities to care for the well being of it’s members. Increased awareness of social sustainability led people begin to realize that the environment was something that needed to be protected, and that they could. An example of communities beginning to care for the environment is when Americans started reusing many items during the World Wars. Eventually, this turned into the nationwide recycling program that began in 1977. Senator Gaylord Nelson started Earth Day; his first year they had 20 million participants. Other politicians, particularly at the urge of their constitutes, started to pass legislation to help the environment. Although, this was met with backlash from other politicians, and many companies. Leonardo DiCaprio and Natalie Portman are two stars who often shine light on various sustainability issues and ways in which we can fix it, they are using their own personal brand to help the environment.
All of this made many business’ realize that they need to “go green”. This realization led to the creation of sustainable marketing; which is the process of creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers without sacrificing natural or human capital to do so.