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The great green momentum killer
I think the last time we put the green newsletter out was in the fall of 2008.
You remember 2008? Between August and November that year the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped about 3,500 points from about 11,600. Its low would be 6,626 in March 2009.
I remember an oft sick feeling in the pit of my stomach then.
We'd peaked in the fall of 2007 above 14,000 points. The Dow (finally) broke 13,000 this year in February. Do you feel like we're approaching those record heights again? Not with unemployment at 8.3% it doesn't.
How many times in our lives will we see companies like Wickes, Carls, Robb & Stucky, Hudson's, Hendricks, American Home, Fortunoff, Z Gallerie, Jennifer Convertibles, Lack's, Berkline and CIT, among others, file for bankruptcy protection?
Some of those companies have restructured, been bought or changed dramatically. Maybe it doesn't feel like we're on the way back up yet because we've developed that thicker, more cautious, skin that lean times help you grow.
Good green intentions certainly weren't rewarded in the Great Recession - the great green momentum killer.
I was a little greener - pun - more naïve, at the time. I thought we were on the cusp of a green revolution. Back in 2009, I heard New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman speak at High Point University.
He put us in our places. Friedman said were having a green party and that our efforts required little of the sacrifice of true revolutions. Already in the depths of recession, with businesses focused on staying afloat, his message then already sounded dated.
But it was true. What was happening then didn't really compare to sacrifice like Revolutionary War-era winters at Valley Forge or Morristown.
Back in 2007 and 2008 I thought we should all be making sustainable furniture.
But you can't put the cart before the horse. We're an $80 billion industry. We're a complicated industry.
How do we get our industry to buy-in to a topic that is still controversial? Our industry is composed of marketers, sales and supplier reps, online and brick and mortar retailers, small store owners, plant managers, overseas manufacturer's agents - to name just a few.
How could you even start to produce meaningful change?
I've said it before - the American Home Furnishings Alliance deserves a lot of credit for keeping its eye on the ball. AHFA consistently produces results in furnishings plants across America and continues getting buy-in from domestic companies for sustainability programs.
AHFA staff have access to plants and plant managers, they know the regulations and have in place programs like Enhancing Furniture's Environmental Culture, or EFEC, Sustainable By Design, and now Eco3Home marketing.
Walking recently through Bassett's Plant 11 in Martinsville I saw the EFEC logo painted on walls throughout the plant. This subliminal reminder keeps the program on employees' minds, as do the giant boxes for recycling.
Don't underestimate the importance of recycling. It sends less trash to landfills, a sorry sight if you've never walked on a mountain of garbage. The AHFA programs have taught workers to recycle.
How many companies do you know that prioritize that? And if we've struggled to promote sustainability in our own plants, how on earth do we make green consumer products?
Hopefully 2012 is the year of sustained economic recovery. There are some great green stories to tell. Companies didn't just stop paying attention to the subject during the recession. The NASCAR story included in this newsletter is a good one about a big sport's big effort.
I'm looking forward to delving into this topic more. If you've got a story idea, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (336) 605-1123.