Have we reached 'peak sustainability'? Thankfully, not...

Sharing is caring: Instead of trying to make big companies “less bad,” as they have done for much of their careers, Adam Werbach and Andy Ruben started Yerdle last fall to try to change the way people think about consumption. Yerdle is a platform for giving things away, and getting things you need, all at no cost as a way to discourage wasteful consumption and encouraging sharing. [See Joel Makower's story, "Can yerdle turn consuming less into the next big thing?"]

So far, Adam said in his presentation, things are going well. The website has about 10,000 members, most in San Francisco, where it's growing at a rate of about 6 percent per week. This week, it's rolling out in New York. He talked about his own career trajectory, as he moved from leading the Sierra Club to consulting for Walmart to his startup. Incremental change is valuable, Adam acknowledged — he talked some about the benefits of reducing the materials and energy that go into a plastic fork — but he’s more excited by the potential for changing the way that people consume. “It’s a lot more fun talking about the good” than it is trying to minimize the bad, he said.

“Sharing will become the new shopping,” he said. We can hope.

Wall Street, friend of the planet?: Erika Karp of UBS and Matt Arnold of JPMorganChase are working from the inside out to raise awareness of the environmental risks and opportunities facing the big investment banks and their clients. They’re both passionate about sustainability, which made my job — moderating their conversation — easy.

Erika oversees all of the global sector research at UBS, and says she is having some success persuading analysts that research into ESG — environmental, social and governance — provides a valuable window into the quality of corporate management. “Arguably, all these ESG metrics are a proxy for quality,” she said. If her hypothesis is right, companies that pay heed to their long-term environmental risks and opportunities will over time outperform their peers. That remains to be seen.

Matt described JPMorgan’s extensive efforts to first learn about the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and then to work with nearly 100 of the bank’s clients that engage in fracking, in an effort to persuade them to share best practices. That’s gone well, he said. Harder, he said, has been making the case that the big banks should turn away from financing companies that build coal plants in the developing world, particularly in places like India where hundreds of millions of people desperately need electricity.

There was much more packed into the day — sober talk about the energy, food and water risks from Andrew Steer of the World Resources Institute; an inspiring presentation from Kavita Shukla, the young founder of Fenugreen, which makes paper that keeps fruits and vegetables fresher and longer — check out her story. Also, some sage advice on navigating a CEO transition from two veteran sustainability executives, Tod Arbogast of Avon and Dave Stangis of Campbell's Soup.

More to come tomorrow from Day 2 of GreenBiz Forum New York.

Photo of Dave Stangis, Campbell's Soup vice president of CSR and sustainability, and Tod Arbogast, vice president of sustainability and corporate responsibility, Avon at GreenBiz Forum New York courtesy GreenBiz Group.