Much has been said in recent months about the Occupy Wall Street movement and its link with a broader movement to rein in wastefulness and unsustainable business practices through entrepreneurial innovation. Occupiers are often critiqued as being off-message or, worse, not having a message. Other times Occupiers are accused of being too vague or hypocritical. It seems most of middle America would rather complain about pictures of Occupy Wall Street protesters holding Starbucks coffees than actually listen to their grievances. The most common charge waged at the group is that they don’t really know what they’re protesting, that it’s generalized liberal ambiguity. However, if you read between the lines, there are several clear messages emanating from Occupy Wall Street and they are perfectly aligned with environmental responsibility and sustainability:
Citizen Apathy is Over
The days of the citizens of this country standing idly by while corporations do whatever they want is over. This should lead to a high-level transparency that makes it more difficult for CEOs to dodge blame when environmental disasters such as oil spills take place. Ecological entrepreneurs are needed in corporate America for the production of cost-effective environmental safeguards.
Corporations Cannot Ignore Responsibility
If corporate executives are going to pay themselves excessive bonuses with bailout money, they are going to have to invest in ecologically-friendly business models that can regain the trust of the public. Most people aren’t opposed to a hierarchical reward system in corporate America, they’re opposed to people getting bonuses for operating poorly run businesses. Sustainability is the next major iceberg on the horizon and CEO’s are going to have to get serious about addressing it if they are to be trusted.
Economic Models Must Include Environmental Costs
Our economic system has been constructed in a way that makes insiders extremely wealthy, but it doesn’t address the true cost we impose upon the environment. Wall Street seems to think the free market can expand forever without tabulating the reality of wasteful resource allocation and energy use. A new economic model is what Occupiers are demanding, and this new economic model must be based on true cost economics that give political gravity to sustainability and renewable energy.
Unsustainble Business Practices Must Go
Corporate greed and wastefulness is not sustainable. It must come to an end. Occupy Wall Street is not seeking to dismantle capitalism, it is seeking to trigger a conversation about how we can collectively alter our lifestyles in a way that preserves the Earth’s natural resources.
The Occupy Wall Street represents a number of different causes but at its root it is about addressing corporate waste and an ethos of unsustainable, regressive business practices. The core message goes right to the heart of our economic system, demanding that we realign our incentives with the demands of an ecologically-educated, entrepreneurial, sustainable society.
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This is a Guest Post by Samantha Peters, who frequently writes for entrepreneurial and tech blogs to share her perspectives on topics of social interest and importance to eco-conscious business people.