Originally posted on February 10, 2012. At WorkingWonders, we’re emboldened by Natural Marketing Institute’s report saying 80% of the American population is green in one way or another. It’s great news, but let’s not make the mistake of thinking the new green economy will simply materialize.
Broad agreement that serious environmental issues exist, the feeling that most Americans want to go green, and widespread adoption of recycling practices are steps in the right direction. The stage has been set, but a new green economy seems as invisible as the emperor’s new clothes. Add our frustration over a major disconnect between political bluster and current economic stagnation, and promises of a new green economy have clearly fallen short.
So, what’s in the way of making our economy green? Skirting the political implications, we offer two quick explanations for green economy shortcomings: supply chains and innovation.
The two go hand in hand. America is still a country of amazing innovation, but global supply chains now dictate that most of the manufacturing for sustainable products and renewable energy resources, along with the government funding for these green economy initiatives, ends up overseas.
When American consumers put their money toward these green economy products, those dollars may first help innovators here in the United States, but the real economic impact gets spread out across the global supply chain. Not much gets back to the American public in the form of job growth and prosperity.
Our approach is different. Instead of applying a top-down approach, the WorkingWonders™ merchandise mix promotes green innovators who manufacture in the United States. This bottom-up approach puts an oft overlooked social aspect back into the green economy agenda, focusing on sustainable goods and services where they make a positive impact in American communities. The key to this plan is elevating the visibility of small to mid-size suppliers that own both the innovation and the production of their goods—a worthy segment of our economy that mainstream retailers routinely exclude from their supply chains.
After all, we can’t expect Americans to drive the new green economy when most of their consumer options depend on supply chains that yield inferior products at greater social cost. And we can’t expect Americans to drive economic recovery when these consumer products don’t support domestic job growth. Build a national green retail home & lifestyle brand for the Americans leading the sustainable charge for the thriving green economy we all want. They will climb over all the dead wood that’s “in the way” to get us there.