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Rethinking B2C: Business to (Carbon) Consumer

I was thinking about the term business to consumer (B2C) the other day. I am not a huge fan of the term “consumer” in the digital era– we’re all content creators after all. But I just realised that my notion that we are all producers is even more true in terms of carbon footprint. Whether individuals or businesses, free agents or organisations, we are all net producers of carbon dioxide.

Aha- I thought to myself, “neat insight”, and so to twitter, where I said:

“when it comes to carbon emissions none of us are consumers. we are all producers.”

Quick as a flash Digital Signals came back and said:

“The fern on our bathroom window sill would beg to differ!”

The real insight therefore is that Business To Consumer might have an entirely different meaning this century. Businesses need to create closed loops systems with plants, the only reliable carbon consumers. Of course such an idea might sound bonkers – but why shouldn’t a polluter directly pay to halt deforestation in, say, Brazil? Lets save the planet’s lungs while we still can, before the only carbon consumers we can use are ugly crop-based monocultures.

At the moment we’re trying to come up with sophisticated cap and trade schemes to work the climate change problems we face. As ever complexity rules. But if every company in the Fortune 500 rethought the notion of the consumer, and worked the problem accordingly, we could see some interesting new models emerge.

It has been said that offsetting is horse puckey, but that seems awfully shortsighted, particularly if the offsetting investment is in carbon consumers. An awful lot of research is going to be required to identify the best plant species for carbon consumption- but there has to be a successful business or five in there.

So what might your Sustainable Business To Consumer strategy be?

picture courtesy of dawnzy58 on flickr under creativecommons 2.0 attribution license.