Sustainable lifestyles | Inquirer Business
MAPping the Future

Sustainable lifestyles

/ 07:26 PM April 14, 2013

We recently convened around 60 people from business, the academe, NGOs and even the religious in a one-day workshop on Sustainable Lifestyles.

The ECHOsi Foundation (non-profit arm of ECHOstore sustainable lifestyle) was asked by The Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP) to gather a diverse group of participants to discuss what was happening in the Philippines. This workshop was part of a four-country study—Colombia, China, Ghana and the Philippines—involving a diverse mix.

For this project, CSCP is funded by the United Nations and the Federal Republic of Germany. Two foreign consultants were brought in to handle the workshop and to report the results as part of the four-country focus.


The organizers were happy to find an engaged group among urban planner and former MAP president Jun Palafox, former DENR Secretary Bebet Gozun, broadcaster TJ Manotoc, financial expert Lanny Nanagas, CSR stalwart Alex Escano, along with entrepreneurs, lawyers and social enterprise practitioners.


Sustainable consumption and production looks at interdependencies among producers in one part of the world, and the effect of such production on the environment and consumers in another part of the world.

These interdependencies must be managed for us to have a more sustainable future. It all sounds broad until you pull it out and take it to a micro level.

Recently, I spoke at a regional students conference and engaged my co-speaker whose plastics and chemical company recently went public.

I asked him what his company’s vision and mission is, considering he is the third generation executive running what is now a public firm.

His company makes colorants and chemicals. I wanted to ask him about the environmental impact of his products on wastewater, etc. He dismissed it and said “my clients are my customers…. What they ask for, I manufacture.” So never mind if he pollutes the waterways.

Anyway, he said, “if I do not make it for them, someone else will.”


This is exactly the mindset of “non-inclusive growth” players. They think of their customers now, but what about the future of their customers’ customers?

This has been the brewing contention among companies who go public and those that remain privately held. Public companies must always drive value in terms of share price, then do a CSR public effort to sort of greenwash the profit-making.

Companies who remain private are not bound to greenwash anything, yet many just believe in good karma.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not mean that going public means making reckless plans just to push the stock price up. I really admire public companies who keep their values and stick to their guns no matter what profit scenario is presented if the production of such products or services will smear their public image, as they have become public property so to speak.

What our public companies must deal with is the future. How will our development affect consumption and production elsewhere in the country?

Sustainable lifestyle is not reserved for young mothers thinking of  what to feed their growing children. Sustainable lifestyle is what we should be thinking of when we put in the first nail for a construction project or when we start to import ingredients for our latest snack food or FMCG products like instant noodles, sugary drinks and anything instant for that matter.

Sustainable lifestyle is not reserved for young students putting up social enterprises to do a community some good. In fact, every company in this day and age must think of sustainability if it must survive even the first five years of existence (known to be the most difficult years of any startup).

Visit the site of CSCP ( and include sustainable lifestyle in your next strategic planning exercise. We are not here for the here and now, but for future generations. And inclusive growth might sound so broad and dreamy,      but inclusive growth and sustainable living is what the future holds. And what the future will sustain.

So, next time you buy stock of any company on the market, put them to the test. Are they sustainable enough to last until 2050? Are they in any way thinking of sustainable consumption in the way they produce products or services?

Ten years ago, we spoke about public companies doing corporate social responsibility and that was good. Ten years later, which is now, it is not enough. From the drawing board, a company, must think of sustainable consumption and production. Or a company and its shareholders risk being gone from the stock exchange boards  sooner than later.

How sustainable is your company?

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(The article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines. The author is founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra and Podium and a licensed one in Centris QC malls. She is president of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and president of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. Feedback at [email protected]. For previous articles, please visit

TAGS: Business, ECHOsi Foundation, MAP, News

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