Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Is Sustainability in Danger of Becoming the Preserve of the Wealthy?

Article excerpt

Selfridges' sustainable fishing drive, Project Ocean, shows the importance of thinking green but the debate now is whether average consumers can afford to factor the environment into their spending

NO - DAVID BAINBRIDGE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ELVIS COMMUNICATIONS

The disturbing and powerful film The End of the Line about the repercussions of over-fishing might have been the catalyst for Selfridges' Project Ocean. However, it is newer, less-well-financed businesses focused on purpose rather than profit that really harness the power of sustainability.

Take Followfish in Germany, which introduced a tracking code on packaging that allowed consumers to see where the fish they are eating came from and how it was cultivated, caught, processed and stored.

Online shoe shop Zappos and electric car manufacturer Tesla have been equally disruptive in their categories. For these forward-thinking businesses, sustainability isn't just a single product or marketing initiative but a belief set that every department and every employee share.

Now I wonder if you can take your sustainable fish home in a plastic bag from Selfridges? The destructive consequences of plastic in our oceans is another very inconvenient truth.

NO - THOMAS DELABRIERE, MARKETING DIRECTOR, INNOCENT

More than a decade ago, environmental sustainability was not high on the agenda. Today, it's inextricably linked to everyone's thinking.

Any rational business knows that sustainability is necessary to ensure sufficient food for our increasing population levels, maintain our ecosystems and keep doing business.

At Innocent, sustainability is part of our DNA. It might make us sound a bit like a Miss World contestant, but we want to leave things a little bit better than we find them. One of the reasons is to ensure we will have a supply of fruit in the future to sell our products.

We do our best to help address some of the major global issues facing agricultural production such as climate change and water scarcity.

Also, the challenging world economic situation can have a positive impact on measures adopted by consumers with smaller incomes.

Making sure that energy is not wasted, or eating all the food bought, are examples of simple things that anyone can adopt.

NO - SIMEEN KADI, GROUP HEAD OF MARKETING, CARBON TRUST

Consumers are taking steps to 'do their bit' as they become more aware of their environmental impact. …