McDonald’s promises to use only beef, coffee, fish, chicken, and cooking oil obtained from sustainable sources. Coca-Cola promises to achieve water neutrality. Unilever seeks to achieve 100 percent sustainable agricultural sourcing by 2020. Walmart has pledged to become carbon neutral. Big-brand companies seem to be making commitments that go beyond the usual “greenwashing” efforts undertaken largely for public-relations purposes. In Eco-Business, Peter Dauvergne and Jane Lister examine this new corporate embrace of sustainability, its actual accomplishments, and the consequences for the environment.
For many leading-brand companies, these corporate sustainability efforts go deep, reorienting central operations and extending through global supply chains. Yet, as Dauvergne and Lister point out, these companies are doing this not for the good of the planet but for their own profits and market share in a volatile, globalized economy. They are using sustainability as a business tool. Dauvergne and Lister show that the eco-efficiencies achieved by big-brand companies limit the potential for finding deeper solutions to pressing environmental problems and reinforce runaway consumption. Eco-business promotes the sustainability of big business, not the sustainability of life on Earth.
About the Authors
Peter Dauvergne is Professor of International Relations at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of The Shadows of Consumption: Consequences for the Global Environment and Eco-Business: A Big-Brand Takeover of Sustainability (with Jane Lister), both published by the MIT Press.
Jane Lister, a Senior Research Fellow at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, is a sustainability practitioner.
—Andrew J. Hoffman, co-author (with John R. Ehrenfeld) of Flourishing: A Frank Conversation About Sustainability
—Paul Wapner, Professor, Global Environmental Politics Program, American University; author of Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism
—David Vogel, Professor of Business and Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
—Aseem Prakash, University of Washington, Seattle
—Elizabeth R. DeSombre, Environmental Studies Program, Wellesley College