Why Can’t We Scale Sustainable Markets?

Why Can’t We Scale Sustainable Markets?

In a recent episode of her podcast, Supply Chain Revolution, Sheri Hinish asked the critical question about all the innovation taking place around markets for sustainable products: “Why aren’t these ideas scaling?”

Like Hinish, I cannot understand why society continues to perpetuate unsustainable markets producing products that pose a clear and present danger to our future.


We do not lack for human suffering or societal crises to bring a sense of urgency to doing away with the outdated markets of today and changings the systems under which markets operate.

We do not lack for smart, talented people driven to make the world a better place.

We do not lack for game changing inventions and powerful technologies.

We do not lack for money. For example, research by Bloomberg found that global assets managed under an environment, social, and governance (ESG) framework will reach $53 trillion by 2025 – roughly one third of all money invested around the world.

We long ago should have done away with coal-fired power plants, gas guzzling vehicles, chemicals in our food, and t-shirts that each require over 700 gallons of water to produce.

Yet here we are in 2021 – still not adopting markets that offer a clearly superior alternative. Even worse, all of us remain dependent on every one of those inherently unsustainable products to live our lives. We may own a Tesla and have solar panels on our roof but we continue buying cotton t-shirts, shipped to us by Amazon in carboard packages that are delivered by fossil fuel-powered ships, jets, trains, and trucks. I, for one, am guilty as charged.

To find an answer to that perplexing and troubling disconnect, I have started work on my next book – Market Makers. This book will be a sequel to my first book – Transformative Markets – and will explore a number of sustainable markets to better understand their ability to scale into something transformative that achieves the vision of systems change I discussed in previous posts on SystemChangr.

The markets I will look at will include wind and solar power, vertical farming, carbon capture and storage, and circular fashion, to name a few. It is my hope that Market Makers will be an honest assessment of what is, and what is not working when it comes to accelerating the development of markets for sustainable products.

While the research used in writing Market Makers will provide clear, actionable insights and recommendations for how to spur the development of sustainable markets, the book also leaves room for inspiration and optimism.

Its goal is to bring the reader into the groundbreaking work of innovators and entrepreneurs on the front lines of these markets. They have turned their passion and knowledge into goods and services to be used by all of us so that we achieve a tomorrow that is healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable than what exists today.

Bob Ludke, Co-founder/CSO, systemCHANGR

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