From the on start of the module, it was clear that at the end I was supposed to comprehend the concept of sustainability. I was also expected to pinpoint the aspects that influenced and kept us from attaining sustainability. The module gave me a chance to finally look at sustainability from a business point of view. I also got around to understanding the difference between sustainability from sustainable development. By understanding sustainability, I was able to identify that types of sustainability had different priorities owing to their primary and secondary goals; ecological, economic then social. As the first lecture progressed, I constantly found my prior knowledge on sustainability being challenged by new information. The first lecture also enlightened me on the concept of corporate social responsibility. I managed to identify the role that corporate social responsibility played in sustainable development (Borland, 2013). Achieving sustainability in the corporate world also needs input from business ethics. I now understand that even though one might affect the other, sustainability is way different from business ethics, sustainable development, marketing ethics and corporate social responsibility.
When going through the module, I learnt that there are many ways through which sustainability can be achieved in different industries. A perfect example would be the fashion industry that has employed various strategies. Now, before going through the module, I had no idea that connect clothes and rent a closet were means through which the fashion industry was attaining sustainability. In the agricultural sector, sustainability is being achieved through simple activities like crop rotation. I realized that sustainability has also been implemented in the construction industry for a long time now. The use of efficient dual-flush and composting toilets, water appliances and shower heads are a way of the construction industry to attain sustainability. The module introduced me to the description of a marketed product that adhered to sustainability; one that used natural and organic sourcing for its materials, making use of materials that are environmental friendly and employing lean manufacturing and supply means. Before going through the module, I thought that sustainability could only be achieved in the methods of production and materials used. I was enlightened to sustainability achieved through distribution channels as well. This is achieved by reduction in carbon footprint like what Starbucks does. I am now aware that there are some products that claim to be eco-friendly but aren’t like the Original Dawn Dish Soap.
It is important to comprehend people’s psychology in order to understand why some find it difficult to uphold sustainable practices. Again, this new approach by the module came as a surprise. When thinking about sustainability and how to improve it, I never once thought about psychology. I learnt that the environmental crisis witnessed is an expression of internal conflict, beliefs and inability to accept change. The module explained the situation in terms of psychology using different approaches: Gestalt psychology, Freudian psychology, purpose and meaning, social psychology and eco-psychology. What I found most convincing was the explanation of the dominant social paradigm. According to this, persons with heightened DSP expressed reduced concerns for environmental issues. I find this explanation more clear and direct to anyone else interested in understanding sustainability form the psychology point of view. I am now aware that sustainability practices can be spread across communities through social diffusion of norms. My neighbor of friend would be more inclined to reduce their household carbon footprint if they see me do the same.
When talking about sustainability in marketing, I now realize that there are so many cases of Green-washing when marketing various products. Time and again, we are led to believe in the commercials run or labels on products that indicate them to be environmental friendly. Without going through the module I never would have known that there are so many cases where products do not fulfill these claims in actuality. It came to my knowledge that so many products that I use daily or more than once fall under this category. For instance, the Fiji water bottle is said to be packaged in carbon-negative packaging but its distribution channels; using additional oil and fuel, do not enhance sustainability (Terrachoice, 2012). Even though I do not smoke, the thought of organic cigarettes might seem sustainable on one end but in the end, the smoke is harmful to both people and the environment. There is so much information about the current marketing trends that strive to attain sustainability that I am keen on acquiring.
The module has helped to look at the use of wind energy through the lenses of economic and ecological sustainability. Fiscal breakdown of the costs and environmental implications of constructing and running wind turbines enabled me understand the effect that wind energy had on sustainability. As a student and a prospective functional and reliable citizen, understanding the carbon cycle has turned out to be integral in determining personal stands of sustainable practices. By comprehending the carbon cycle and what actions results in what eventuality, I believe I more inclined to practice sustainability and explain it to others.
After going through the module, I am now more aware of carbon foot print. I had never given thought to calculating or regulating it until I learnt about sustainability. There are so many things that need to be considered when chasing sustainable strategy development (Borland & Lindgreen, 2013). I was only aware of the implementation of conservation of inadequate physical resources and taking up the responsibility to managing waste. The module opened my eyes to more principles that actually drive sustainable strategy development like: stabilization of economic growth as it is essential, placing top priority on the physical environment when making business decisions, stabilization and regulation of consumer markets to reduce strain on resources and using circular and system-based component and product course. I am now able to identify a sustainable strategy as it is characterized by: green, non-toxicity, abundance, less intrusive, and open living system (Obermiller et al. 2008). I also learnt that there are many ways through which industries can adopt clean technologies that uphold sustainability like: renewable energy, information technology, genomics, nanotechnology, biomimicry and employing the use of natural systems, components and products. In my opinion, the most adaptable strategy learnt in the module is the transitional strategy. This kind of strategy is identified by the principle to recycle, reduce, repair, reuse and regulate. With the information that this kind of strategy is run on eco-efficiency, I am positive that it is the best strategy to employ when upholding sustainability. However, as also noted in the week three lecture, it would also be efficient if all strategies are used simultaneously.
The module also touched on wastes and the effect they have on sustainability. The most interesting part of week four lecture was the one about monstrous hybrids. I had no idea that simple and essential things to me could be part of these monstrous hybrids. The most shocking discovery was on shoes. I had no idea that there were substitutes being used to vegetable chemical tanning that were carcinogenic. I realized that every day I walk in my rubber sole shoes I leave a part of the plastics and lead in the ground as I go. Week four lecture also enlightened me on the different ways that eco-effectiveness can be attained: connection to natural energy flows, respect diversity and employing the use of local materials.
During the week six lecture, we were able to extensively go through sustainable marketing. I was new to the idea as I had never considered sustainability could relate to the marketing of products in any way. Sustainable marketing is wide and ranges from protection from substandard and low-down products, socially harmful products and consumption that is detrimental to the environment (Arnould & Press, 2011). I now know of the various companies that have made strides to embrace sustainability like GE from the USA and Vistas from Denmark. Apparently, current marketing is deeply rooted in the Dominant Social Paradigm. Using knowledge from the past lecture on DSP, people with DSP will be less inclined to take up responsibility with the environment and its sustainability. I know identify that there is a need to make changes in marketing and shift towards a much Greener Paradigm (Cronin et al. 2011).
In the week eight lecture, it became apparent that our environmental behavior is impacted on by beliefs, self-identity, attitudes and values. The lecture also took us through the other kind of sustainable strategy; transformational strategy. I learnt that this kind of strategy is identified by recovering, reinventing, redirecting, rethinking and redesigning. This kind of strategy is run on co-effectiveness. Companies have a bigger role to play in marketing their products. It is now clear that companies have the ability to change how consumers think by swaying their preferences towards sustainable products and services (Rai, 2012). I learnt that companies should be more than just product marketers; they should be educators on sustainability. A big surprise also came when leadership was also incorporated into sustainability. It has come to my knowledge that there are so many ways that sustainability can be achieved.
- Arnould, E. and Press, M. (2011) Marketing organisations and sustainable marketing. Laramie: University of Wyoming, p.2-12
- Borland, H. (2013) Using Science in Business Sustainability Teaching and Research, Chapter 11, in Haynes, K., Murray, A. and Dillard, J. (eds.) Corporate Social Responsibility: A Research Handbook. Abingdon: Routledge.
- Borland, H. and Lindgreen, A. (2013) Sustainability, Epistemology, Ecocentric Business and Marketing Strategy: Ideology, Reality and Vision, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 117, Issue 1, pp. 173-187.
- Cronin, J.J., Smith, J., Gleim, M., Ramirez, E., and Martinez, J.: 2011. ‘Green marketing strategies: An examination of stakeholders and the opportunities they present’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 39(1), 158-174.
- Obermiller, C. et al. (2008) Sustainable business as marketing strategy. Innovative marketing, 4 (3), p.20-27.
- Rai, N. (2012) Consumers still pay up to help farmers: Fairtrade. The Wall Street Journal, [online] 27th of February.
- Terrachoice (2012) The Sins of Greenwashing: Home and Family Edition.