Sustainable Marketing: An Overview
uring humankind's recorded history, extensive and sophisticated consumption systems have evolved to meet the needs of the earth's human population.
When the population was small, the activities involved in providing the food, clothing, housing, and other products (goods and services) demanded by people left virtually no "footprint" of pollution in the air or on the land, freshwater bodies, or oceans. But with world population now estimated at approximately 6.0 billion and expected to surge to between 7.7 billion and
11.2 billion by the year 2050 (Robinson 1998:7), the damage inflicted by consumption on the earth's ecosystems has become a world-class issue. The question is, "How do we manage consumption processes to continue to meet the needs of people while also preventing the devastation of our basic lifesupport sy stems ?"
Why Sustainable M a r k e t i n g — N o w ?
In The Ecology of Commerce, Hawken (1993) places the major responsibility for addressing this question squarely on business corporations. He notes,
"Corporations, because they are the dominant institution on the planet, must squarely address the social and environmental problems that afflict humankind" (p. xiii) and "Business has three issues to face: what it takes, what it makes, and what it wastes" (p. 12). "What it takes" refers to the material and
energy resources that are removed from the earth's ecosystems through mining, extracting, cutting, growing, hunting, and other means. "What it makes" represents the products of commerce, goods and services, that are derived from those resources through industrial conversion-transformation processes. "What it wastes" represents eco-costs, defined here as the collective costs to businesses, customers, and societies of cultural garbage/waste, pollution, and the ongoing destruction of natural systems, which are the consequences of taking and