This blog post consists of a section cut from SDialogue's upcoming white paper on sustainability programs. It makes connections and ties together some important background information on sustainability in a unique and fun way. We hope you enjoy...
A Very Brief History of Sustainability
By the 1960s, pollution of our air, land and water reached frightening levels. The Cuyahoga River in Ohio, for example, caught fire for the third time in 1969 due to debris, fuel and chemicals. This pollution often came from extractive, development and energy industries, but also from the vast and rapidly growing number of motorized vehicles, as well as other individual sources.
The people, their watchdogs and politicians saw this was not good for our natural environment or public health, and said “let something be done.”
By the 1970s, some of those people included early, visionary entrepreneurs like Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia; and Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, of Ben & Jerry's legend. They recognized that business could be used as a powerful vehicle for environmental conservation and social change.
They were eventually joined by thousands of other sustainability-oriented entrepreneurs. Green America alone (formerly Co-op America), a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1982, now counts nearly 5,000 screened members in its green-business network, nearly all of them small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs). These include such brands as Aveda, Seventh Generation and Stonyfield Farm.
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