Introducing isms: Exploring relevant practices, systems, & ideologies for my thesis framework


Part 1: Classic Concepts 

Bioregionalism: A social movement which strives to recover a sense of place and community by revitalizing ecologically sustainable and culturally diverse societies in the context of their locals (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 13). This ism has a potential to weigh in on the local Certified B Corp chapter which facilitates the expansion of the certification to businesses in Portland.

Ecological footprint: The biophysical connection each individual has with the planet. It is commonly used to define an individuals or groups use of resource (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 43). Businesses, especially those in the Global North, have large ecological footprints. Certifications are one avenue to reduce those impacts.

One world: The idea that all humans belong to one planet which requires global environmental action (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 72). The concept buffers against bioregionalism. This is a perspective often absent from international supply chains.

Part 2: Contemporary Concepts

Corporate environmental responsibility: The environmental damage resulting from industrialization resulted in criticism, political mobilization, and governance regulation of businesses. Corporate environmental responsibility attempts to promote corporations as environmentally responsible actors (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 163). My framework directly considers if corporations can be businesses for good, or if the inherent consumptive nature of capitalism permits that.

Green economy: Economic growth that is environmentally beneficial; attempts to decouple economic growth from resource burdens (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 163). Certifications, corporate responsibility, and other means of regulation play into this.

Issues and Debates

Part 5: Challenges and Changes

Land degradation and restoration: The last decade has seen demand for halting or reversing the degradation that humans have caused on Earths land and ecosystem services at a global scale (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 535). Certifications address businesses practices which contribute to such degradation.

Water resources: Humans depend on water for drinking, food, and sanitation, with large quantities also used for industrial purposes and processes (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 572). Global North businesses use very large quantities of water; certifications addresses efficient water use in standards.

Part 7: Key Debates

Environmental behavior change: We encounter campaigns attempting to change our behaviors daily. Increasingly, environmental behavior change is used as a policy tool to inspire individual change rather than enforce change through regulation or law (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 748). Certifications are a salient example of environmental behavior change in practice, toeing the line between individual action (from consumers) and institutional actions (setting new, higher minimum global standards).

Environment and economy: Perspectives vary on how the environment and the economy interact; at large, discussion considers the commodification of natural resources and the role of technology in production of goods (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 763). Businesses play a large role in the alienation of people from the resources they depend on and in the development of new technologies.

Multi level environmental governance: The phenomena of governance not only from a central state, but from local governments and local and international nonprofits and NGOs (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 783). Certification schemes play a lesser role in this process but are in line with the general trend of non-government regulation.

Scholarly movements

Part 4: Contemporary approaches

Business studies and the environment: Corporate and industrial activities cause significant impact on the human and non-human world (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 373). Certifications are one avenue to address such impacts.

Environmental political economy: This field seeks to understand the dynamics between the economy, environment, and decisions of policy and government (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 430). Government owned certifications are one method corporations are impacted by such debates.

Part 6: Human Responses

Ecological modernisation: An approach to achieving sustainable development in modern market societies by decoupling the negative aspects of growth and incentivizing technology to discover new markets (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 586). Certifications are a results of this movement; they do not challenge, but modify, the system of consumption.

Environmental certifications and standards: Environmental certified management standards (ECMS) are adopted by organizations to improve the environmentally-friendly nature of their operations (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 620). Certified B Corp is the first business certification to address environmental and social impacts of business.

Green consumption: Seeks to reduce the impact of household consumption on the environment by changing the way consumers buy goods and services, use energy, and deal with waste (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 684). Sustainability certifications signal to ‘green’ consumers the supposed benefits of buying their products.Greenwashing: This phenomenon occurs with the saturation of green symbols in markets where consumers have difficulty discerning between corporate appropriation of symbols and words (like ‘natural) and reference to authentic environmental improvement (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 689). With the rise in eco-labels, this problem has been so exacerbated- especially given the limited number of studies which reveal true impact of certifications.

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