Is Environmentalism Good For American Business?
Joe Veilleux doesn’t view himself as an environmentalist, but he understands how his actions might paint him with that brush.
“I’m not an environmentalist,” said Veilleux, general manager of the U.S. operations of natural health ingredient manufacturer Euromed. “I’m a pragmatist. There’s a difference. A lot of environmentalists have characterized their cause as one that pits them directly against corporate America. I’m part of corporate America, but I also recognize the debt I owe to the environment and want to do my fair share to protect it. In the long run, it’s just good for business and there are plenty of examples throughout history of how our environment is one of our most valuable natural resources.”
Veilleux’s company is partner with the Everglades Foundation in a campaign dubbed Glade-iator (www.glade-iator.org), which is a model of the public-private partnership Veilleux believes is good for business. In the program, every time a manufacturer purchases an order of Euromed’s saw palmetto extract to create a natural health supplement, Euromed will make a donation to the Everglades Foundation in the name of the purchasing company. The Foundation, whose mission is to preserve all the natural habitats in Florida (where nearly all of the world’s supply of saw palmetto is located), benefits not only from the donations but also from the marketing materials about the campaign that Euromed supplies to natural health manufacturers.
“According to the annual USA Giving report, corporate giving, which is tied to corporate profits, increased 5.5 percent in 2009 to $14.1 billion,” Veilleux said. Not only that, but giving to environmental causes was on the way up, with $6.6 billion in donations in 2009. It’s not just about the dollars, either. Fortune Magazine just held a conference called Brainstorm Green, where they gathered top corporate figures like Virgin’s Richard Branson and some of the top environmentalists and cause-related organizations for a summit on how to make things better for both groups. The event grew by 23 percent over last year’s gathering. Public-private partnership just plain works.”
Along those lines, companies who help with the Glade-iator effort will also be able to help educate their customers about how they can help the green effort, Veilleux said.
“Companies can make a connection with people through public-private programs like Glade-iator,” he added. “Corporations have massive reach into the consumer community, and using that reach not only helps educate consumers about environmental issues, but it also helps make them feel like they are part of the solution. It helps companies build a connection with consumers that is of benefit to the company, as well. Consumers who are on board with the green movement have a tendency to be more loyal to those brands which espouse similar values. It’s a win-win for everyone and that’s why we’re involved in this kind of partnership.”