You can’t spell “conservative” without “conserve”

You can’t spell “conservative” without “conserve”

Concern for the environment doesn’t necessarily follow party lines.

We often associate sustainability with strong liberal or Democratic principles, with those on the opposite side being environmentally indifferent conservatives – who are often viewed as self-centered and willing to do whatever they can to make a profit. I believe there are many examples that prove this perception wrong.

The Energy and Enterprise Initiative and Duke University Environmental Law and Policy Forum recently hosted a symposium entitled “Conservative Visions of Our Environmental Future,” featuring participants from  conservative think tanks like the Hoover Institution, R Street Institute, Heritage Foundation and the John Locke Foundation,  along with members of the NC Environmental Management Commission and NC General Assembly. Topics covered included “Cutting the Budget, Greening the Planet” and “Putting Free Enterprise to Work” (to develop environmental solutions).

Once a Republican (and before that a Democrat), Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg has initiated some controversial initiatives in recent months – all in the name of cost savings. Banning sugary sodas and smoking in public places; mandating composting; standing by gun control and higher taxes – all seem like extremely liberal initiatives, but aside from personal belief, they are also about the responsible use of tax dollars. The mayor considers these actions part of a fiduciary responsibility to use public funds in the best way.

Stopping people from overindulging on sweet sodas may stop folks from becoming obese or developing other health problems, thereby saving tax dollars. Same for cigarettes. And gun violence not only impacts health costs, but also the city’s tourism economy.

Now take a tour of some websites of Fortune 500 companies – you know, the bastions of right-leaning capitalism. Go to the About pages, and you will most likely see statements regarding their views on environmental responsibility. You might be surprised to read that many are committed advocates for clean air, water and land. And why is that?

Well, conservatives who are good at making money understand the importance of raw materials, along with investments in communities through CSR efforts. You can’t make wood furniture or paper without trees. And most manufacturing plants need water to run. Take away the water, and you take away the product, and then the profit. When natural resources become scarce, costs go up and margins go down.

It’s also a natural fit for conservative business owners to fully embrace the concept of energy efficiency and waste reduction. Almost every company looks for ways to reduce operating costs, and saving energy – on the manufacturing floor, in the company car fleet, etc. – and reducing waste disposal can save millions.

So while the most effective message for a business owner isn’t the same as the one you would craft for a flower child, the outcome is the same: healthier people and a healthier planet. You just have to speak the language business people understand: finance. It’s about a healthier bottom line.

You will get their attention very quickly.

Skills

Posted on

August 9, 2013

About the Author

Jim Lyza

Jim is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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