THE BLOG
11/07/2007 12:23 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Better Green Late than Never

It doesn't just rain, it pours. Or perhaps melts is a better metaphor. By the time I'm watching the NBC logo turned green, and football analysts sitting in the dark at halftime, no wonder Al Gore won both the Oscar and the Nobel. It's about time things turned green. Because it couldn't happen to a more deserving world.

Last week the Wall Street Journal called it a "green stampede."

Business loves a bandwagon. Media love a story. And the greening of business is both. And suddenly it seems that in the world of business, at least, we have a veritable green explosion of convenient truth:

  • The most obvious is the global recognition that saving the environment matters. The canonization of Al Gore is as much a symptom of changing times as a cause. Look around businesses, and business press, and business blogs, and business schools and it's now as plain as day that real people value the common sense of saving what's left of the environment. Okay, I admit, the glass is at least half empty when we consider how little we're actually doing about it, but it's half full when we consider how frequently it's taken into consideration. Real companies with real stockholders are now taking factors like carbon balance seriously. Inc Magazine has a special section on it in its latest issue. In today's world, it makes good business sense to spend money on green factors.
  • I write this on the plane back to Oregon after two days at the University of Notre Dame helping with the preliminary round judging for two venture competitions: one for sustainable social enterprises and the other for business in general. A group of us went over roughly 60 ventures proposed by undergrads, grad students, and alumni. The fact that we reviewed 19 entrants in the social sustainable category is remarkable. More remarkable, though, was how hard it was to draw lines between the two divisions. Most of the social sustainable enterprises also looked like plain good businesses. Many of the ventures In the standard channel had social and sustainable elements. The trend was glaringly obvious.
  • Andrea Learned at Marketing Profs Daily Fix was one of a half dozen bloggers last week who noted a Slate Magazine article showing how buyers paid more, and happily, when offered fair trade goods at higher prices.
  • Investors, always a good lead indicator, get it. In VC gatherings, Web 2.0 conferences, and VC-related blogs the green businesses are clearly hotter than the norm. And green isn't just environmentally sensitive any more either, it's also about social equality, governance, and distribution.  To confirm this, browse through what's available at www.ted.com or the latest demo conferences.
  • Stock markets get it too. Earlier this year Motley Fool said "the market for the green arena specifically has never been brighter." The underlying assumption is that green companies are less likely to be responsible for the oil tankers destroying Alaska or Enron screwing its people. Or they are more likely to win new business, like when Swedish company Hoover's sensitivity to power consumption in appliances led to a huge contract with China that led to a big boost in valuation.
Book Cover

There's no denying that "Greening" has been a long time coming. A show of hands please ... how many remember the stir caused by "The Greening of America?" Published in 1970, (Ok, a show of hands, how many were alive in 1970?) it was essentially a tribute to so-called "counter-culture" ideas of the late 1960s. We're talking about Mario Savio and the free speech movement in Berkeley in 1964, then the anti-war movement of the late 1960s, the world wide student movement in 1968, civil rights, hippies, and, among all of that, environmentalism. It wasn't global warming back then as much as Rachel Carson's The Silent Spring; but it was a start.

Better late than never, I suppose, but wow, did it have to take 40 years?