If I have one wish for 2018, it is that, after a year in which the entire world seems to have dumbed down, it gets a bit smarter again. I’m not holding out a lot of hope but as the owner of a decent-sized company such as Mole Graphics, you must always - as that giant of 20th century philosophy Eric Idle put it - look on the bright side.
The best way to do that is to accept the things we can’t change, be brave enough to change the things we can and be wise enough to recognise the difference. One thing I’d like to change - but am not sure I can - is our clients’ policies on sustainability. For more than a decade I’ve been hearing - and reading - that companies are about to take the environment seriously. Some have - Marks & Spencer’s Plan A being a case in point - but most of the past, present and future customers I deal with barely mention it.
For example, I have not heard anyone discuss theory of the triple bottom line - a concept designed to ensure that business benefits companies, society and the environment - outside a workshop or a seminar.
If I am asked about out our environmental credentials, I usually start by talking about our recycling programme. By the time I’ve got onto our experiments with greener inks, I can see their eyes glazing over. What they really want to talk about is price, quality and delivery. As we have spent a fair bit of money on this, it’s quite irritating. We’ll recoup most of the investment in efficiencies but it’s not been the selling point our nonplussed sales director thought it would be.
Even as consumers our attitudes seem contradictory. In surveys, 70% of us say that we wouldn’t buy a product that harmed the environment but in 2016, the year after Volkswagen admitted fixing emissions tests to make its diesel vehicles seem greener than they actually were, the group sold more cars - 10,300,000 of them - than in any previous year.
I’m not sure how long this indifference will last. It doesn’t help that the US government seems to have decided that climate change is ‘fake news’. If there is fakery at work here, maybe the fault is in ourselves - we’re indulging in our own kind of greenwash, kidding ourselves that we care about the environment when we really don’t. What do you think?
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