It's difficult for businesses to describe what sustainability is, but it's even more difficult for consumers to understand it.
Companies have already recognised the value of sustainability to waste and energy reduction, cost savings, increased profitability over the long term and a prosperous future for all of us on our endangered planet, but has the mainstream consumer realised that? Does she see the need to adopt and demand sustainable consumption?
Sadly, I think no.
And that's the biggest barrier for sustainability. The real problem behind making sustainable consumption mainstream is the lack of awareness among people that such products and services exist, and that these are a big part of the solution towards solving pressing global issues such as resource and water scarcity, pollution and waste, carbon footprint, urbanisation etc. I'm not saying that companies don't have an important role here, I am only saying that if companies were facing much stronger demands from consumers for sustainable products, then companies wouldn't have any other choice but to respond to that pressure in a timely manner and transform their business models. If that were so, then the process of aligning sustainability with overall business goals and especially financial strategy as well as embedding sustainability within the entire business, including developing metrics to track progress and tie in with external factors (e.g. environmental costs), would have already been largely adopted. And so would have consumer behavioural and consumption change already been mainstream. It's a viscous circle...