Perusing the internet recently for current information on sustainability, I came across a rather candid blog by Thomas Wailgum, an editor who typically covers IT trends on CIO.com. In his most recent post, Wailgum compares the ways companies market their sustainability initiatives to downing two sleeping aids before gorging on Thanksgiving turkey and chasing the works with red wine.

An over-the-top hyperbole? I’m inclined to say so. But in closing his comments, Wailgum does strike a chord. He asserts that sustainability really is a worthy corporate aspiration and suggests sustainability’s resonance will continue to drop as long as it remains a relatively vague term and consumers simply aren’t incented in the topic.

Should companies take this as their cue to drop the whole sustainability schpeel and move on to the next topic? Hardly.

In fact, the better options for corporations might be to illustrate sustainability marketing with tangible, well-grounded examples of sustainability steps they have taken and the precise benefits those projects have delivered. To play on a popular movie catch phrase: “Show me the sustainability!”

In my eyes, most flexible packaging companies are pretty good about backing up their claims with detailed data instead of making generalized, feel-good claims. A prime example of this “show, don’t tell” strategy in action is Multifilm Packaging Corp., and its geothermal heating and cooling initiative that you’ll read about in this month’s Annual Green Report. While Multifilm could have easily summed their project up as an alternative energy effort with little further explanation, the company has gone all out with a lively explanation of how the system works, what installation and implementation required of the company and why it’s a clear improvement over old methods.

Perhaps industries outside the flexible packaging arena will pick up on the examples our industry has set. Too many sustainability efforts being lauded today seem to be loosely centered around this idea that "green" efforts keep the birds, fish, trees and humans alive. After all, what good would it be if they can’t keep the discussion on sustainability alive?
 
Sayre Kos, Editor-in-Chief
koss@bnpmedia.com, 847-740-6210