Why Radical Transparency Matters

The tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us of the fragility of the foundations upon which our modern world is built. As a society, for the most part, we have long ignored the fact that there is often a risk associated with new technologies. Oil, plastic, antibiotics, nitrogen-based fertilizers and many other products of our modern society have made our lives easier and are responsible for some of the greatest advances our civilization has ever experienced. Their benefit to society is undisputable. Yet, unbeknownst to many, these technologies have also slowly started to erode the health of our planet and our bodies.

Today, we live at a very remarkable time. The rate at which we are impacting our planet has never been higher. But at the same time, we are witnessing an important rise in global consciousness towards these very issues. Some say it is too late, while others believe that by teaming up we can bring back balance to our ecosystems as well as increase social justice. WeGreen and LGMi believe that the field of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) can be an integral part of this effort and that corporations can help bring this balance back, and even help tilt it over towards a positive net result.

There are countless examples today of companies that are making a serious effort to improve their carbon footprint, to stop cooperating with suppliers that do not fit stringent environmental and social criteria or to abandon the use of toxic chemicals and substances from their manufacturing processes.

One has a right to be skeptical about the intentions of some of these companies. But whether those companies are pursuing their investments due to the potential for increased profits, better brand perception, the fear of a negative image, or, hopefully because they truly believe in the concept of CSR, matters less than the fact that we are observing a snowball effect where the number of companies involved in CSR activities is increasing rapidly and the scope of these companies’ efforts is exploding. The hope is that we are moving towards a more responsible world, a world in which corporations will start being accountable for their social and environmental impact, a world in which corporations will grow a conscience and will want to be part of the solution.

We, the people, can help this process, and not just by bringing this new mindset to the companies we work in. We can help bring this revolution through our personal behavior as consumers. We can start demanding that the companies whose products we buy be more socially and environmentally responsible. We can decide not to buy and consume products that have been manufactured unethically or that use harmful chemicals in their process. We can use the power we have as individual buyers – and this power is real, do not underestimate it – to pressure corporations into providing us with the best possible products for our health, the health of others and that of the planet.

This desired state of affairs is called Radical Transparency. The idea behind that term is that one day we will be able to know everything there is to know from a social and environmental point of view about any product or service we may be interested in. Companies and service providers that are not afraid of this transparency and that are honest
about their processes, sourcing standards, hiring practices, waste management and energy habits and that are truly interested in doing more for the planet, will be rewarded by the marketplace, and thus, by us the consumers who will increasingly demand better commitment.

WeGreen is paving the way in Europe for such a system to become the defacto standard. Its database of social and environmental information is growing every day and an increasing number of people, organizations and companies are interested in bringing this information to consumers. Our hope is that very soon this knowledge will be ubiquitous and that it will help bring about responsible consumption and increase the incentives for corporations to become more socially and environmentally minded.

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