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Reflections on Vanguard SIFE’s Environmental Sustainability Conference

[Guest post by Terri Manley, Vanguard University undergraduate student]

This past week I went to the Environmental Sustainability Conference at Vanguard University of Southern California. Before I went, to be completely honest, I had no idea what exactly sustainability was. All I knew was that the companies that were there were environmentally conscious, and all into the “green” movement.

Another thing I could not understand is why, me being in a marketing class had to attend the conference. How could a company that is “green” teach me anything about marketing? Surprisingly I found out that easily both the environment sustainability and marketing go hand and hand. The reason being was because it is the new wave that is occurring in American society. The consumer will want to buy something that they know is lessening their carbon footprint, because it’s the new fad.

What I found out is that sustainability is about outperforming your peer companies by finding a niche that is focused on society at large rather than just a profit. Society at large means that of society’s welfare. The main focus is the environment and the carbon footprint that each individual places on earth. The first speaker talked about how America has always been about consumption and not thinking about the future consequences that they face. These consequences are that of deforestation, overfilled trash landfills, global warming, etc. The thing that this individual pointed out was that of malls. How before they were for a social gathering and now they have transformed into convince. The question that I wondered is what exactly is wrong with that. Then he pointed out that we are losing our individuality in this process.

Personally, I value mine and I am sure others do as well. He then went onto to say that now the marketing direction that companies use is directed to the individual. We are coming out of the age that requires machines to see people as all the same to an age those machines are made to the individual not the other way around. With this new focus people are now seeing the effects of their consumerism and focusing on their environment, community, and lastly the individuals respect. This will create so much new territory for marketers to obtain.

Rent-a-Green Box
One company that I watched was rent-a-green box this company was really inspiring. They really were a sustainable company. They knew that there was an opportunity in this upcoming marketing territory. What the company did was that they used trash (laundry bottles, bleach bottles, etc.) to create green colored boxes. Then they would use their vegetable oil run truck and delver these boxes to people that were in the process of moving. What this company did is that they found a niche that has proven to have many benefits, such as profit. They have taken this opportunity and have expanded to more extremes than they have ever thought possible.

They have now created packing material that is reusable. What they have done is target the markets needs of packing and then created a product that meets these needs. The material that they have used is egg crates. Using this material not only meets the needs of the client, but also stays true to the companies’ mission. With each marketing decision that they make they must make sure that it meets the companies set missions and so this is a step that they take in the right direction.

3 P’s
At the point when the company seems successful they must ask themselves if they are meeting the three P’s. The three P’s are that of profit, planet, and people. This acronym is used to determine the success of an environmentally sustainable company. Rent-a-green box meets these requirements.

-PROFIT The first is profit, they meet this because they have recently just signed a contract that will allow them to franchise. When a company franchises they have proven that the company is profitably. They plan to have eight hundred new stores cross-country within the next three years. This many stores will result in profit, a very nice profit. Another aspect of profit is that they use trash. They do not buy new materials, they recycle and re-use everything that they use and own. So what this does creates a low overhead and then it leads more room for profit.

-PLANET The next P that the business is measured to is planet. With the company using trash they are making less pollution to the landfills. They are also helping with lessening deforestation with not using cardboard boxes. They are using different alternatives than fossil fuel, and everything they use they put back into the system to be reused. This helps the plant extensively.

-PEOPLE The finial aspect that they have to be measured up to is that of people. They meet this need when they make the moving process easier and cheaper to them. All that people want during this stressful time of moving is for things to be easier, and rent-a-green box does this fantastically by bringing the product to them and then picking it up afterward.

At the end of the conference I learned why I was there and exactly what sustainability was. Also, I learned that a company that becomes environmentally sustainable has more opportunity in the future. So, marketing fits right along the side of this up and coming phenomenon.

-Terri Manley, Vanguard University Student