ECO:nomics – A sustainability confidence booster

ECO:nomics – A sustainability confidence booster

As I sat in the audience at last week’s Wall Street Journal ECO:nomics Conference, I was excited at the amount of conversation happening in the economic and governmental arenas pertaining to sustainability. As a communications professional who is quite obviously passionate about sustainability, I was, of course, also a bit disappointed. Not at all with the conference itself, as it was fantastic; instead, with the fact that companies are still trying to figure out IF they want to talk about sustainability and the efforts they are making.

In defense of the folks in the audience with me, and those on stage sharing their wisdom, I was at an economics conference. So the fact that sustainability communications wasn’t the primary focus of presentations was simply the way the conference was designed, and that was okay with me – after I got it through my head that not everyone is as ready to talk about sustainability as I am.

What got me the most jazzed over the course of the three days was the volume of companies and entrepreneurs who are looking for new ways to embed sustainability into our global culture. It’s EXCITING stuff! There are companies transforming the way organizations tackle public space waste and recycling, business owners pioneering the future of urban agriculture, and others who are producing cost-effective, sustainable products for the fuel and chemical industries. And those are just a few examples of the companies “making innovative, sustainable stuff.” Others are providing services like cleaning up their communities – Riverkeeper, for instance, works in defense of New York’s water.

Another exciting development is that funding is becoming more available for the creation of these sustainable solutions. It’s important that we start to reduce our collective footprint, and funding groups and institutions who are stepping up to help make dreams become reality were well represented at this event.

And finally, there’s increasing discussion about the need for finding political “common ground” on the issues of sustainability. Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz (at the ripe ol’ age of 92) sat on stage and spoke eloquently about the need for a coming together of Republicans and Democrats on this issue. His belief is that a substantial budget for R&D is key to successfully reducing the world’s carbon footprint. Not all in the audience (or even on stage) agreed with him, but the conversation was had, and that is progress, folks!

There’s so much that took place at the conference, space simply doesn’t allow me to share it all with you. I will say, at the end of my time at the conference, I sat in on a roundtable about green marketing. It was well attended by representatives from companies large and small. I hopped on my plane encouraged that the business case for sustainable innovation is compelling and that sustainability communications will become important for most organizations. As well it should.

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and GreenBiz.com.

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Laila Waggoner

VP Client Engagement

Laila leads our client engagement process, overseeing activities from both a strategic and a tactical level to ensure our work generates desired results – and clients’ satisfaction. She brings 25+ years of marketing leadership experience to her client relationships, with particular expertise in the homebuilding and remodeling industries as well as member-driven organizations, such as the Vinyl Siding Institute and Plastics Pipe Institute. Before joining Shelton Group, she led strategic marketing teams for Owens Corning’s insulation business.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Glen L. Vesser III

VP Finance and Administration

Glen manages Shelton Group’s finances and administration, ensuring our internal systems run smoothly so we can provide exceptional client service in a seamless and timely manner. Glen’s financial and administrative expertise has been shaped by decades of experience in a variety of industries, including public accounting, media distribution and health care.

Mike Beamer

VP Business Development

Mike joined our team to help provide strategic vision and foster our agency’s growth by overseeing new business leads and managing agency marketing and website content. He arrived in Knoxville steeped in energy efficiency and renewables – he previously led client service for an agency division in Boston dedicated to marketing communications strategy and branding for B2B and B2C clients in that space.