The involvement of individual companies in ensuring environmental sustainability took center stage in a two-part segment entitled “Selling Green” at the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference. Discussing their individual environmental strategies and goals towards sustainability, the three speakers demonstrated the necessary involvement of entrepreneurs in ensuring future environmental policy.
Robert McDonald, the chairman, president and CEO of The Procter and Gamble Company, which owns Covergirl, Bounty, Venus and several other brands, opened the panel. McDonald began by addressing his own goals for his company, which include eventually using 100 percent renewable energy and recyclable materials and relying 25 percent on renewable energy by 2020.
“We won’t be around if we don’t take care of our environment,” said McDonald, “Of course the shareholders are on board. They’re concerned about the environment too.”
The support from the shareholders stands as a necessity, considering the amount of money McDonald has put into ensuring his products move toward greener practices and uses.
“We spend over $2 billion a year,” said McDonald. “The reason we spend it, the reason we innovate, is because innovation is the way we improve people’s lives…What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to improve our products for the environment.”
John Paul DeJoria and Dara O’Rourke finished off the discussion, downsizing from McDonald’s Fortune 500 company. DeJoria, the chairman and CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems, a company known for it’s hair care and styling products which also produces the tequila Patron, said his company pursues environmentally friendly policies out of their own concern.
“We do it because we want to, not because we had to,” said DeJoria. “I wanted recycled bottles, recycled papers.”
Specifically through Patron, DeJoria pursues his environmental goals by moving the company towards recycled bottles and reducing waste from the production of the tequila itself. DeJoria said that until the recent popular trend toward appreciating environmentally friendly products, his company did little to promote their efforts.
“Very few people know about the ecological part,” said DeJoria. “Once they see that, we hope others will follow suit.”
As for the future of the company, DeJoria said they would continue their trend toward environmental stability while maintaining the quality of their products
“We’re going to continue to improve and look at all areas,” said Dejoria. “The more we talk about it, the more people open their eyes and ears to it, the more it will become common place.”
Dara O’Rourke, the chief sustainability officer of GoodGuide, an online website and iPhone app that enables consumers to retrieve health and environmental evaluations of products, believes there’s a growing trend amongst consumers toward desiring environmentally friendly goods.
“There definitely is a growing percentage of consumers that know and care and are seeking out [these products],” said O’Rourke, “They’re looking for products that are safe, healthy, and clean.”
O’Rourke continued to stress throughout the panel discussion the importance of implied connotations between green and beneficial.
“When they think green, they think safe and healthy,” said O’Rourke. “Consumers want safe, healthy, green, and sustainable.”
Addressing the other assumed connotations, that between green and expensive, DeJoria believes the issue stems from a lack of collaboration and that technology is helping to deal with this issue.
“Social media and word of mouth is exploding,” said DeJoria. “It takes more people getting involved more of the time.”