What role does design play in sustaining the earth? “The biggest role,” says writer, journalist, and Merchant of Virtue author Bill Birchard. An environmental advocate and proponent of business sustainability, Birchard shared with us his thoughts on caring for the earth, the importance of measuring environmental performance, and of course, design.
There’s always a lot of press coverage around Earth Day. It’s hard to know whether we’re doing better or worse at caring for the earth. What’s your view?
I think it’s useful to distinguish between consumers and companies. As a consumer, it’s sometimes hard to see whether we’re doing much better. On the corporate side, we’re doing a lot better. And that’s significant, because corporations have a huge amount of leverage compared to consumers. A recent Sloan/MIT study showed that 68% of companies had increased their commitment to sustainability in the last year, compared to just 25% doing so two years ago. Companies still have a long way to go, but the trend toward greater responsibility by the most powerful institutions on earth—corporations—appears irreversible. Read more