Through UGBA 192, I’m on a team to develop sustainable paper guidelines for our client, a prominent paper merchandise retailer. This project affirms our professor’s view of CSR as an orientation to approach profitable business. I’ve realized that CSR is where the market’s going; it’s a bandwagon that companies can’t afford to not hop on; once they get left behind, it will be hard to catch up.

I read an article about the paper practices of a fast-food company that’s been exposed for hiding behind vague CSR words: “uses recycled content” and “all packaging is certified.” Despite using recycled content, this company sources paper from endangered or old-growth forests in the Southern U.S. Also, the certification used is not the most rigorous one. Still the company pats itself on the back for being “green.”

Before this project, I would’ve been fooled into thinking a company that just uses recycled paper is environmentally responsible. While this project has given me an accelerated understanding of forest-related concerns, the fact that this article was written shows it’s only a matter of time before all consumers realize that companies may not be as green as they advertise. The media is ruthless about companies who aren’t following the CSR trend. The article calls out this company for exhibiting “the worst of the worst forest practices… [and] the epitome of bad corporate behavior.” Worse than the company’s harvesting practices is its lack of transparency in acknowledging its errors – this is why the article really tears it apart.

CSR is not as nebulous as it once was; it’s become difficult to be “sort of green” without clearly explaining what a company’s actually doing about sustainability.This is partly because of the media, but also because most companies are on the path to transparency and engagement in CSR. Both these factors drive consumers to demand this from the whole market. Economics is supply and demand—when demand for responsible business increases, profits increase, and irresponsible businesses do worse. This class has shown me how important it is for my client to stay ahead of the curve, not just for the sake of “doing good” but for the sake of the (fairly and responsibly calculated) paychecks that the management takes home at the end of the day.



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