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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hollender says companies need to be responsible, go green

Published: September 25, 2009
Section: News

The Co-Founder of an environmentally conscious corporation spoke about sustainable business yesterday afternoon in a lecture at the Shapiro Theater.

Jeffrey Hollender, Co-Founder and Chief Inspired Protagonist of Seventh Generation, addressed issues of how to run an environmentally supportive business in an event sponsored by Brandies Net Impact.

Speaking to an audience of all ages, from undergraduate students to the elderly, Hollender represented Seventh Generation, a company that creates household and personal care products, including laundry products, household cleaners, and baby products.

“[I] didn’t come here to talk about Seventh Generation,” Hollender said.

Instead, he addressed the larger scale issues of environmentally responsible business, saying that companies simply need to change their mindsets and goals in order to change the environment that we live in.

“The incremental nature of how change happens in our political system” is crucial to understanding how climate change can occur in the future, said Hollender.

Hollender, a supporter of President Obama and former President Clinton, explained that there are many more problems besides global warming. Too much focus on the short term allows us to lose sight of our long term goals regarding climate change, according to Hollender.

“The challenge of rising above the incremental nature of the way change takes place in Washington is one that I am focusing an increasing amount of intention on.”

“The reason that Obama got elected was because he was able to unite people together under a common mission,” said Hollender.

Hollender said that a similar strategy can be applied to environmental change in the twenty-first century.

“We need to have a shared common misson that brings people together…that people recognize is more important than the very simple issue that they are focused on.”

He stressed the importance of “conscious capitalism” and explained that it actually costs less to make products healthier.

Hollender’s company is an example of what he spoke about. He has often turned down large tax deductions in order to fulfill the mission of his company.

Hollender insisted that there was a large difference between products that were “good,” and those that were simply “less bad.” Corporations must make a conscious effort to improve their sustainability initiatives.

“We have the resources…we have more than enough potential to make the kind of changes we want to make in the world if we can come together,” said Hollender.

Hollender has had a successful business career, where he recently stepped down as CEO of Seventh Generation in order serve on the Board of Directors of several environmentally sustainable corporations, including Greenpeace USA and Healthy Child Healthy World.

According to the company’s website, the name Seventh Generation comes from The Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy, which states the importance of the future.

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations,” said the Great Law.

The Campus Sustainability Initiative will host an event called Green Game Plan for Brandeis University on Wednesday September 30 at 5 p.m. in the New Science Center.