By Mark Joseph Mongilutz
Slated for February 6-8 and billed as “The Premier Annual Event for Sustainability Leaders,” GreenBiz 18, in partnership with Arizona State University, will soon make its tenth appearance in the Valley of the Sun. JW Marriott Desert Ridge will host the gathering in which over 150 industry luminaries, thought leaders, and policy influencers will be spread across several panels and 70 topic-specific breakout sessions. The event promises to be stimulating and compelling in equal measures.
Panel discussions will cover perennially important subjects related to sustainable business practices while venturing boldly into the cultural, political and social terrain. Joel Makower, Greenbiz Group, Inc. executive editor and GreenBiz Forums host, is energetically and optimistically readying for this year’s summit.
In speaking with Green Living Magazine, Makower pointed out that, where embracing sustainability is concerned, many large American corporations are “doubling down rather than doubling over” in response to a political climate that appears less friendly to the growing trend towards environmentally and globally conscious business practices and policies than has previously been the case. Interestingly, Makower observes that many corporations have nevertheless continued “ramping up their push towards renewables and carbon reduction,” with many household-name companies included among them. That bodes well for the sustainability movement both in terms of tangible impact and its place in the popular understanding.
This year’s gathering will highlight the fact that many of the nation’s largest business operations have aggressively shifted their practices into alignment with a “circular economy” formula. “Circular economy” refers to a phenomenon in which resource-intensive industries conscientiously track the usage, transporting and recycling of the materials necessary to maintain their business operations. In doing so, wastefulness can be more actively curtailed, efficient conveyance of goods maximized, and reusable material spared the scrap heap in favor of being recycled to one degree or another. It is essentially a process of analyzing what experts identify as “material/energy loops” and narrowing their circumference by closing gaps in each cycle. Circular economy will be a core topic at this year’s summit, as businesses of all sorts are further embracing the wise and environmentally sound concept.
Businesses the world over have significantly benefited from circular economy tenets and are broadcasting their support for sustainability by openly embracing its practice. For its part, GreenBiz 18 is a vital forum in which groundbreaking ideas and initiatives germane to the work of fashioning a sustainable economy can find purchase in the minds of those best positioned to exact positive change within their respective fields and industries.
The sheer extent of corporate buy-in on display with this year’s GreenBiz 18 gathering is breathtaking. There is a common perception that niche manufacturers such as Tesla and a handful of hip startups are largely responsible for steering the American economy towards a more energy-conscious, eco-friendly model. What GreenBiz 18’s ongoing work has illuminated is the fact that some of the oldest, largest, and most commercially ubiquitous of corporations have themselves made enormous strides in reshaping both their own business practices and, by example, those of the larger industries in which they operate.
Juggernauts the likes of WalMart, McDonald’s, 21st Century Fox, and Starbucks (to name only a few) are making great sustainability strides with every passing year. Their public affiliation with GreenBiz 18 is reason enough to reevaluate sustainability measures as being not the domain of a handful of trendy West Coast shops, but that of the mainstream U.S. business community.
Joel Makower maintains his optimism while readying for this year’s Sustainability Event, and does so with good reason. All indicators support the notion that responsible stewardship of our resources, our energy, and our environment has taken root in the minds of those best positioned to enact change at the highest levels of commerce and policy. The gathering to come will no doubt support that impression.
Originally from Washington state, Mark Joseph Mongilutz is a professional writer, a former soldier, a lifelong storyteller, and a master of arts in the field of military history. He is also known to have dabbled in blacksmithing for a time.