You knew the answer already – consumers. And it turns out that they have a major direct effect on a huge abstract force that affects our future. I’m talking about green house gas emissions. It’s estimated that around 65% of US emissions are controlled directly or indirectly by consumers, and their choices. So the power to change is not all in the hands of anonymous bureaucrats and corporate cartels at all; it’s largely in the hands of all us. I’ve always believed when we put our individual skills together, all of us are more powerful than any one of us. It’s the wisdom of crowds, the passionate spirit of teams, the enduring love of families, they all lead to this conclusion. What’s great is that the bigger the group you are part of, the more dramatic change you can effect. Nowhere is this more true than in changing our actions and attitudes toward creating a more sustainable world. I have already talked about how Wal-Mart harnessed the power of its huge staff by developing their own Personal Sustainability Projects. Wal-Mart believes that once their associates personally commit to a sustainability project, whatever the scale, they start to make a difference and their conviction also touches the shoppers and communities they interact with every day. So often in debates about people and planet scale is seen as a negative, but sometimes scale can create dramatic effects. Small individual shifts in consumer behavior can make huge gains. It’s the same as the way people used to talk about making it big in China. “If we could sell one widget to even 20 percent of the population, we’ll make a fortune.” Most didn’t of course, but if we can get even a modest reduction in greenhouse emissions or other sustainable savings from most of the people in the US, the result for the world would be immense. Sometimes big is beautiful.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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