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Profitability and sustainability are incompatible

To generate profit, a company must make more than it spends. nd the lower the labour and materials costs, the greater the profit. So there is significant incentive to not source materials sustainably or to pay workers living wages.

To generate profit, a company must make more than it spends. It must pay their workers less money to produce a product than it charges customers who purchase that product. It must pay less for the raw materials to produce a product than it charges customers who purchase that product.

And the lower the labour and materials costs, the greater the profit. So there is significant incentive to not source materials sustainably or to pay workers living wages.

Lumber companies will seek the lowest costs to harvest timber and will try to harvest the timber that gives them the most lumber in the least amount of harvest time.

Beverage companies will seek the lowest costs to extract water and will try to harvest the water that requires the least amount of processing.

Electronics companies will seek the lowest costs to extract the minerals to make the components of their products, even if that means funding perpetual civil wars in distant countries.

Grocery chains will seek the lowest costs for bananas and chocolate, even if it means producers use child labour to guarantee it.

Snack food manufacturers will seek the lowest costs on their ingredients, even if it means the widespread destruction of orangutan habitat.

Don’t believe people when they tell you that capitalism and environmentalism are compatible.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

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