Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

So where is the Green Mafia?

By Lorne Craig on November 15, 2008

Picture Big Oil, and what comes to mind? Lush, leather and dark-wood upholstered boardrooms, thick polished tables surrounded by equally thick, polished grey-haired old men, lit from spotlights above, their cold, steely eyes in perpetual shadow. These are the power brokers who, with a single conference call, can arrange corporate tax breaks, kill environmental legislation, and install dictators in questionable democracies like Canada.

So who does the Green Business Movement have? Ralph Nader on a megaphone? Leonardo DiCaprio firing killer looks from his Prius? Al Gore and his laser-powered Powerpoint pointer?

Face it, to make any serious difference, we need a secret society. A group of influential people who have the ear of every politician in power, who can make things very uncomfortable for businesses who don’t play by Mother Nature’s rules, not to mention greasing the wheels for entrepreneurs who need a little government help to get things going.

A little backroom handshake, and suddenly money is being diverted from arms production to build streetcars for a flurry of public transit projects that were mysteriously approved. A late night phone call, and a radical new electric car design is rushed through the government approval process just in time for the new model season. An anonymous donation to the Widowed Trees Fund and the next day a new law is passed banning disposable plastic forks, just as factories are tooling up to make biodegradable starch cutlery.

And somewhere in the background, small grassroots groups of chemical companies, coal mining execs and defense contractors write their congressmen, hold bake sales and host neighborhood rallies in protest. OK, I’m just dreaming that last part.

But it does beg the question, from where will the sustainable power base emerge?

Well, ladies and gentlemen of the New Green Economy, it will probably have to be us. Taking time from our busy careers to join associations. Working together with our competitors to advance common interests. Meeting politicians, or God help us, running for office ourselves. We may never match the might of hundreds of years of old economy money rattling around the halls of power, but one day we’ll be old, too. And with a little luck and hard work, we may carry enough weight to tip the playing field just a little closer to level.

In the meantime, I can be bribed. Not that it will get you anywhere right now, but someday….

Image credit: Lorne Craig