Today, we publish our fourth State of Green Business report, GreenBiz.com's annual effort to take the pulse of what and how the world of sustainable business is doing.
It's an interesting time to take this accounting, to say the least. In society, environmental issues seem to have faded from view, at least in the U.S., thanks in large part to the recession. "Saving the earth" has taken a back seat to simply saving the day. The politics of the moment seem to have made clean air, clean water, biodiversity, and planetary survival a controversial thing -- something we can afford only in "good times." Consumers continue to sit largely on the sidelines, taking small (but, for them, meaningful) actions, like recycling, employing reusable shopping bags, and buying energy-efficient products.
And climate change, that inconvenient truth, has conveniently faded from view as an issue of national import.
It's a different story in the business world. In fact, it's hard to find a big company these days that isn't engaged in environmental issues in a meaningful way. Indeed, a dramatic shift is occurring in business: Companies are thinking bigger and longer term about sustainability -- a sea change from their otherwise notoriously incremental, short-term mindset. And even during these challenging economic times, many have doubled down on their sustainability activities and commitments.
Exactly how and why is the story we tell in the State of Green Business 2011, a free downloadable report. As in the past, we identify ten key trends and measure the greening of the U.S. economy through 20 indicators, from carbon intensity to cleantech investing to corporate reporting.
The verdict? As always, it's mixed. Of the 20 indicators, 7 were found to be "swimming" -- that is, making progress; 2 are deemed "sinking" -- losing ground; and the other 11 are "treading" -- just hanging on.
Next page: The bigger picture, and some good news