Accelerated by the financial meltdown and a growing demand for green services, the craze over sustainability is just as difficult to grasp as a hieroglyph. Is there a word more used and less understood than the S-word?
As brand strategists and communication experts we ask ourselves the odd question everyday: What is sustainability? Who produces it? Where can I buy some? And we help our clients reflect on their own questions: What does it have to do with my business? Does it make my knowledge current or obsolete?
In our experience sustainability is neither a vertical industry nor a product. I can’t bottle it and sell it – although some may try. Instead, sustainable thinking involves continually setting and re-evaluating our working criteria: it is process-driven; it spreads its wings horizontally across all economic and cultural levels of society, touching everything we do. In short, sustainability is about solving today the problems our immediate choices may cause tomorrow.
There is no doubt that trying to measure the future shadow cast by ALL our choices over a timeline can be a daunting task. But no matter how complex, sustainability is the defining force behind 21st century economic development and is here to stay. We will learn to live with it like a new IT, and the transition to a sustainable state of mind will be no more difficult than learning to turn on our laptops instead of sharpening our pencils. In fact, we are really going to love it. Soon sustainable thinking will be comparable to computer literacy or information technology. And just like IT brought increased productivity and decreased manufacturing and communication costs, sustainability is already bringing about many tangible benefits.
For starters, sustainable design is cheaper. In operational terms investing to reduce waste means reducing costs. A product with fewer parts that ships in smaller packaging and takes less time to assemble or disassemble costs less to produce. So where is the catch, you may ask. Why are other players in my industry so slow to adopt sustainable design standards?
Most of the awkwardness has to do with us, people. No one likes being outdated. New standards and new materials imply working with new knowledge or different providers, so that cutting down on the waste may also mean cutting down on many relationships. Change, change, change. In the current tide, we can’t hold onto each other forever. Without innovation the existing ties in most professional networks will not be able to preserve their current net worth. And in Europe we are talking less than 10 years till new laws will enforce compliance on an industry-wide level, in some cases it could be 5 or less. Let’s face it: we ALL have to change the way we do things!
And is there a better way to adapt to the new challenges that through intelligent design? At Dot Kite, we are excited to announce a new research program called ‘Sustainable by Design’ in which we will focus on innovative collaborations with industry leaders to deliver the best and most sustainable out-of-the-box thinking. Please stay tuned.
In the meantime, we’ll stay focused: our goal is to turn every assignment and every client relationship into profit-making innovation. After all, money has always been green.