What We Learned From Green Innovators in the Region
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Q: With so much “greenwashing” out there, how does your business compete?
A: Providing a cost-competitive product is critical. A green business also doesn’t necessarily need to use the environmental argument in its marketing, and may even find greater success using other appeals, such as the human health factor. By avoiding use of environmentally hazardous chemicals, materials and practices, “green” businesses usually have a more positive impact on human health than their non-green counterparts.
Q: Can you share an example of a time you felt pressured to compromise your sustainability values for the sake of the business and how you navigated that?
A: While fundamentally all three businesses are “green,” the speakers agreed they face smaller day-to-day decisions in which they must balance environmental impact with cost. These are navigated on a case-by-case basis with careful consideration of issues like whether there is a possibility the environmentally friendlier alternative is more cost-effective in the long-run or avoiding a negative human health impact at all costs. Usually, the green alternative wins out when one has a longer term perspective.
Q: The discussion about sustainability in a broader sense (e.g. government investing in clean energy) has become politicized. What are your perspectives on this challenge?
A: “The environment is too important to be a charity,” says David Saltman.
The panelists agreed that there is cause for optimism as Americans are becoming fed up with partisanship. Over time, more people will embrace the notion that moving beyond our fossil fuel dependence is not un-American nor partisan but simple common sense. In fact, moving toward a new clean economy, and believing that we have the right talent, innovation and resources right here in the United States to achieve that, is truly patriotic.
The speakers also emphasized the importance of getting involved locally and communicating to policy makers the impact of their policies on regional sustainability and the clean-tech sector.
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