Here is a continuation of a conversation I am having with a friend, Melissa, in the CSR department of a major US consumer product good company.
The question that we have been grappling is one of responsibility. While the finger can be pointed at everyone, who really is in charge? Government, Corporations or us? Please join our dialogue as the point of this post is not to theorize about the answer, but to start the discussion. Here’s what Melissa had to say:
I can’t help but notice how we overwhelmingly blame corporations or government for our growing environmental problems while forgetting our responsibility as consumers. Sure, corporations produce a lot of stuff we don’t need in unsustainable ways, but we buy it! Yes, government could up the ante on environmental regulation, preservation and funding; but if we don’t tell legislators what we want and hold them accountable, we can’t expect much.
Accepting responsibility isn’t a sacrifice, but freedom and empowerment – the realization that we have a choice and aren’t helpless pawns.
To buy or not to buy” isn’t really the (only) question. While we buy a lot of unnecessary stuff and don’t always choose sustainable options, there are things we need and to preach complete austerity in a recession is heartless treason to some.
Rather, we need to shop smarter when we do need something, now, more than ever. We need to make every dollar an investment in the world we want to see, to look past short term gains in favor of lasting solutions. In doing this, we can build a more sustainable economy and environment, as well as social equity.
To make our dollars go as far as possible, we need to be creative. Hybrid cars, solar panels and organic food, for example, are out of reach for many financially. By forming a car share, buying co-ops and the like we can make them more affordable. On a more practical level, we can take a cue from companies like TerraCycle and repurpose what we currently discard.
At the same time, we need to tell corporations and government what course we want them to take and make sure they hold their share of responsibility.
How are you embracing personal responsibility and engaging corporations and government? What ideas and resources do you have for others?”