Why we like an unfocused ‘beat pollution’ campaign

Our friend Richard Blume, a sustainability adviser for The Natural Step, tipped us to news about a UN meeting slated for December to issue a formal political declaration that pollution – including air and water contamination – is one of the major health and ecological problems facing the globe. There wasn’t one already? The UN rally call is "beat pollution."

That cause might sound gigantic and unfocused, but Richard says big-picture declarations are important in raising awareness and commitment to solutions, especially given the latest research on how significant global pollution really is. A recent landmark scientific study finds toxic air, water, soils and workplaces kill at least 9m people and cost trillions of dollars every year and is a threat to the very future of human societies.

Companies need to understand the scale of the problem but the focus shouldn't just be about responding to new legislation outlawing this or that chemical often years too late. With the right tools and insight, companies can unlock growing business opportunities that contribute to a more circular and sustainable economy. One example Richard offers, “Waste material is piling up, and we need be much smarter at collecting and reusing it. This is harder to do if the wrong substances are allowed to enter the material stream and we need to also consider all the different forms of emissions from production and consumption. So if we are truly going to #beat pollution, then the overall goal should be to design better products and to think about the full life cycle using sustainability principles so that waste and pollution are avoided altogether. That’s our focus at The Natural Step.”