Biting the Hand That Overfeeds Us

Biting the Hand That Overfeeds Us

“If we activate citizens, not consumers… I think business can be a positive agent for change” (via Twitter, Rose Marcario, Patagonia’s CEO, at the South by Southwest conference in March).

Citizens come together, take collective responsibility, and make conscious choices about how they want to live and who they want to be as an organization or nation. Consumers, well, consume. Words matter, and I’m pretty sure that “consumer” is bad for business and bad for the economy. Too often, we marketers no longer see our jobs as finding a win-win with a real person who is our customer, but rather as cramming ever more stuff down the throats of beings whose job is simply to consume it all. No wonder we’re overweight and in debt …

Economists focus on economic growth, which theoretically benefits everyone, but they only measure it by how much stuff we cram down consumers’ throats. In a sense, this is understandable because stuff is easily produced and easily measured. Producing and measuring more value just hurts our heads. I’m pretty sure this makes economists the ones who are promoting a poverty mindset – in their eyes, every tomato I grow myself reduces GDP. They’d prefer that I buy something tasteless from the supermarket, grown with pesticides (the sale of which adds to GDP) and shipped 3,000 miles (shipping, again, adding to GDP).

I’m not attacking capitalism. I believe that conscious capitalism is the solution, and innovation in green business is going to solve the problems that 20th century capitalism created. Even more than the shiny new digital toys that fascinate venture capitalists, sustainable business represents a new era in our economy. What Rose’s Twitter quote says to me is that the secret to real economic growth in the 21st century is to activate a “citizen” mindset that seeks innovations in value and takes responsibility for its consumption choices, not to find new ways to seduce artificially fattened consumers to buy more stuff.

Read the full article on TriplePundit.

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