Earth Day Recap: Corporate Response Ho-Hum, Retail Brands Promote Consumption; Eric Lowitt Goes Beyond "I Told You So" to Hope

In his blog today, sustainability expert and author Eric Lowitt questioned the validity and value of corporate statements, offerings, and celebrations on a day intended to spread awareness and support for the environment.

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Has Earth Day finally regressed to a holiday that, regardless of its original meaning, is an excuse for consumers to shop and for companies to proffer half-hearted attempts to seem politically correct?

Boston, MA (PRWEB) May 02, 2013

In his blog today, sustainability expert and author Eric Lowitt questioned the validity and value of corporate statements, offerings, and celebrations on a day intended to spread awareness and support for the environment. As a follow-up to his pre-Earth Day prediction (Why I Dislike Earth Day) of greenwashing and empty efforts inspired by marketers' compulsion to do something, Lowitt issued an "I Told You So" with a side of hope.

Lowitt described what he saw on Earth Day: blasé reactions from both corporations and consumers alike. An executive at a major brand said, "Oh, I forgot it was Earth Day today. Oh, well." Then a major retailer tried, via email, to sell him discounted pants for his seven year old in the name of Earth Day.

All this prompted Lowitt to ask, "Has Earth Day finally regressed to a holiday that, regardless of its original meaning, is an excuse for consumers to shop and for companies to proffer half-hearted attempts to seem politically correct?"

Earlier in April, Lowitt wrote, "Earth Day irks me," expressing frustration over the excessive corporate greenwashing that, he feels, peaks around Earth Day. In that piece, he implored corporate executives to recognize that "sustainability is not only broader than green, but also the basis for competitive advantage" that can lead to "increased profit and economic development opportunities."

Despite his critique of the general corporate response to Earth Day, Lowitt contends that, by making small efforts, executives can promote and encourage more meaningful and effective environmental change. He suggests that business offer paid time off for employees to perform community service, or that retailers extend discounts to consumers who trade in old clothing to be donated or recycled.

Lowitt also asserts that not all corporations are falling short: he applauds the efforts of Coca-Cola and Unilever, who are, respectively, working to increase the availability of clean water in Ghana and improve the living conditions of small-holder farmers around the world. "There is a growing group of companies that give me a reason for optimism," Lowitt says. "This group is working alongside rivals, public sector agencies, and civil sector organizations to affect change that is meaningful for all involved."

Lowitt calls for consumers and business alike to "prove him wrong" about Earth Day and share examples of real change and valuable knowledge-sharing they may observed on April 22. Lowitt can be reached on Twitter at @ericlowitt or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorEricLowitt.

Lowitt’s new book, The Collaboration Economy: How to Meet Business, Social, and Environmental Needs and Gain Competitive Advantage, is available now online, and in stores May 13, 2013. In the book, Lowitt offers a plan for how the private, public, and civil sectors can successfully collaborate to steward resources; fortify global water, food, and energy systems; and spark a new era of prosperity at the same time. As proof points for the model, Lowitt offers several case studies, including Unilever, GE, Coca-Cola, Nestle Waters North America, Grieg Green, and the European Parliament.

About Eric Lowitt
Eric Lowitt is the Managing Director of Nexus Global Advisors and a globally recognized expert in the fields of competitive strategy, collaboration, and sustainability. A consultant to CEOs and a sought-after speaker, Lowitt is the author of The Future of Value, a critically acclaimed book that connects sustainability with competitive strategy and financial performance. His new book, The Collaboration Economy, will be in bookstores in May 2013. Named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior two years in a row, Lowitt is regularly featured in national and international news, and business and industry publications. He has worked for nearly two decades with Accenture, Fidelity Investments, and Deloitte Consulting, is fluent in Japanese, and earned his M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

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