Sustainability: Consumer accessability, and why green can be golden

Published July 3, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


What kind of individual carbon footprint do you generate with your present lifestyle? At a recent Watsons “Do Good for the Planet” event, this was one of the fun and enlightening interactive elements of the event; as all in attendance were asked to head to the ClimatePartner app to fill out a survey/questionnaire, and total up the amount of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, that their individual actions create.

As Viki Encarnacion, Watsons public relations and sustainability director stressed, “Watsons recognizes its customers to choose more sustainable products and a greener lifestyle. We are continuing this sustainable journey and we are making it personal by talking about how we can reduce our own individual carbon footprint.” This is in consonance with Watsons global commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its business, and how it recently announced new targets to accelerate its contribution to the fight against climate change.

As Viki added, “This is a reminder that we can all help to minimize our carbon footprint, and contribute to the efforts to make our planet cleaner, healthier, and safer.” The Watsons sustainability program encourages customers to do good by choosing products with better ingredients, going for product refills when possible, opting for clean beauty products, and picking products that come in better packaging so they can be reused. Watsons has over 1,200 sustainable choices products in its 900+ stores nationwide, and on its online channel.

Watsons Public Relations and Sustainability Director Ms. Viki Encarnacion and Watsons Marketing Manager Patrick Yu, at their Do Good for the Planet event. (Photo courtesy of Watsons)

Going back to ClimatePartner, resource speaker Jack Warren said, “To address the issue of climate change, we shouldn’t emit more carbon dioxide than what we can offset – a state that’s called carbon neutrality. You can reduce your carbon emissions by eating more greens instead of meat, the smart use of electricity, walk, bike or carpool, and fly economy, instead of business or first class.” Here in the Philippines, we can further help the cause by choosing locally produced food and products, and buying energy efficient products like appliances with inverter technology. It’s all about contributing in our personal way, never thinking our contribution is negligible or too small.

And I’m happy Watsons is out pushing this message – that even if your actions may be of a low impact nature, it’s still part of your personal response to the situation, and integral to your advocating sustainability. It is our only planet, our only present and future, and it’s what our children and their children will inherit from us, so every effort matters.

About two months ago, Jordan Tan and I had this really elucidating lunch with BPI’s Joey Silvestre, and their VP & Head of Sustainability Office Jo Ann Bueno-Eala. At the time, the Manila Bulletin Sustainability Forum was just a seed Jordan and I were trying to germinate, and so we were more than happy to listen to the “experts” — those who had been championing sustainability since Day 1 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Friends from BPI, BPI VP & Head of their Sustainability Office Jo Ann Bueno-Eala, and BPI Family Savings Bank President Ginbee Go. (From Jo Ann’s FB page)

What I loved about Jo Ann was her passionate nature, how she lived and breathed the fire of ‘sustainable’ within the context of a professional banker, trained at the International Finance Corporation (IFC). And when she talked about “Green can be gold,” about ESG + E2, where the second E is about economic factors, Jordan and I were hooked.

Too many still consider ‘sustainable’ as an afterthought, as an unnecessary, but now inevitable, burden on any company’s OpEx. And why not? A decade ago, we wouldn’t talk about sustainable and profitable in a single sentence. Common wisdom then dictated that the two were mutually exclusive, and that being sustainable, or eco-friendly, were all part of a ‘guilty conscience’ economic ecosystem – one divorced from the true Holy Grail capitalist framework grounded in profitability.

But Jo Anne is out to debunk that notion. For her, one can be green and still be golden. Proof of this is how she proudly stated that in her loan portfolio, she has 0% NPL – Non-Performing Loans. What that means to the layman, is that as her department has been approving loans to companies who have to satisfy a sustainability/ESG agenda (environment, social and governance agenda) scorecard; they’ve granted loans to companies who’ve managed to blend sustainability with profitability. In fact, Jo Anne would argue that precisely because they are conscious of sustainability, the brands and products of these lenders enjoy better success, as the younger segment of today’s consumer market seek out these socially responsible brands.

So Jo Anne is pushing for ESG agendas to incorporate E2 in the formula, to spell out that economic success is still part of the overall picture. After all, if the companies of today that champion ESG don’t also carry E2 and fall by the wayside, that will defeat the whole purpose of ESG – as they have to be integral parts of the corporate culture of thriving, successful companies. And that’s music to the ears of the entrepreneurs of today, the MSME’s who will grow and be the conglomerates of the future – that you can be making money, and be sustainable.