Don’t Bury the Lead(ers): Uncovering the True Sustainability Story

May 23rd, 2012

sustainbility leader

By: Randi Kruse

Big companies get a bad rap. Criticized as social carnivores that only focus on the bottom line, very few are seen to be truly making the world a better place. Brands that falsely claim or overstate their eco efforts have made the communication of truly sustainable practices a public relations minefield. Clearly, greenwashing is a nasty practice. With so much information bombarding consumers, how can we know who to trust?

I actually think there’s a bigger problem going on right now. Many companies are quietly, almost invisibly, shifting the way they operate to reduce their consumption of natural resources. These companies have implemented programs and services to help consumers make environmentally responsible choices. Sustainability is no longer a wonky term used only by pointed-headed professors; it’s integrated into the corporate culture of most C-suite executives.

Where’s the problem? The real business leaders are reaping the benefits of a triple-bottom line approach and they’re reluctant to go public with their social and environmental commitments for at least two reasons: fear of a media backlash (greenwashing attacks), and loss of their competitive advantage. This means that both consumers and the business community at large don’t benefit from the true story of what’s going on. There is a new business norm happening everywhere, even where you least expect it.

Take London Drugs. A large BC-based company with pharmacy, electronic, and personal care product expertise, it’s not necessarily the first brand you would imagine to be leading the retail industry in sustainability. In fact, London Drugs is extremely progressive. Based on word-of-mouth information (arguably the most trusted by consumers), here’s what I know about their sustainability commitments:

  • They take back all electronics, even the ones that you didn’t buy there
  • They recycle all batteries, any size, even the ones you didn’t buy there
  • They produce a green consumer guide to help consumers make sustainable choices

London Drugs is a great example of a company that Energy Advantage could support in taking their sustainability commitments to the next level.

Another example of a company that’s leading the way in sustainability programming is Cineplex Entertainment. Already an Energy Advantage customer, Cineplex has been reducing its energy consumption for years through a comprehensive energy management program. Don’t you wish you could see how you’re making the world a better place when you go to the movies and sit in their theatres? The great thing about Cineplex being an energy leader is that they motivate others in their sector to follow suit; Energy Advantage is looking forward to sharing some good news stories about Canadian based Landmark Cinemas soon.

Can these companies do more? Clearly they can. But let’s take moment to shine the spotlight on the good work that they’re already doing. By focusing our collective attention on the corporate leaders who are implementing innovative solutions to the way they operate, we reinforce positive outcomes. The world needs more good news stories and real examples from both the staff who are lucky enough to work for a truly sustainable company, and the consumers who continually reward them with return business.

What’s your story?


Randi is a social marketing and corporate sustainability planner with ten years of communications management experience.

Categories: Energy Management, Sustainability

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