“Our customers aren’t interested in sustainability,” the client says. “We don’t have that kind of customer.” Huh, I say. That’s interesting. Because sustainability affects everyone.

Do your customers have homes? After Superstorm Sandy, property owners had significant damage. But did their insurance company have the funds to cover the billions in payouts? Would the money be enough to rebuild to new standards? And did the contractors have enough resources in the supply chain to rebuild? In Hempstead, NY, it took six years to notify residents of preliminary damage assessments (PDAs) that could affect the insurability, habitability, and ultimately the valuation and sale of their homes. Whether they own or rent, having a habitable place to live is a sustainability issue.

What about energy? In California, downed power lines can spark wildfires. PG&E’s solution to prevent sparks from downed lines? Just turn off all the power for hundreds of thousands of people for days on end. And it looks like these blackouts could be a regular occurrence in Californians’ lives for more than a decade. Utility availability is a sustainability story that is relevant to everyone.

Unprecedented midwest flooding in 2019 led to extensive crop damage and delayed or limited planting seasons. And a shorter planting season means fewer crops, less food, and less resilience if there are weather-related issues mid-season. The weather conditions in 2019 limited supply and raised prices. We now know that COVID also impacted the supply chains for meat processing, eggs, dairy, and many forms of produce. Food security is relevant to everyone.

When we stop thinking about sustainability as a fringe topic for special interests, and instead about people with homes, people who want power, or people who eat, we start to realize that sustainability affects everyone — even your customer.

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