Sustainability Natives

Sustainability Natives

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 9:00am


By Cynthia Figge

This blog was originally posted on CSRHub and Triple Pundit. 

This past weekend I participated in a program at my alma mater, Lawrence University, to connect college students with alumni in business, law, the arts and medicine. As the entrepeneur “role model,” I spoke alongside two other professionals about their journey post-Lawrence. Maybe it’s because I have a “save the world” gene and attract others who share this passion, but it seemed like a considerable number of students are involved in sustainability. They are planting gardens on campus, volunteering in the community, designing new ventures to help homeless people make the transition to a viable livelihood, traveling to China to study sustainability, lobbying for the greening of campus buildings, instigating recycling programs to close the loop, and leading many other independent study and senior projects with a focus in ecological and social issues.

This is why I deem the emerging cohort graduating from college in the past and current decade “sustainability natives.” I borrow the term from Marc Prensky’s “digital natives” – the notion that people under 30-something have come of age after the Internet was made accessible to all. Consequently, their expectations for how the world functions differs significantly from only a generation prior. Just like digital natives, sustainability natives have an innate understanding of the ecological and social issues facing the planet. They do not debate whether these challenges exist or are an imperative for their generation. They instead take for granted the need to creatively solve sustainability’s challenges of efficiency (reduced material and energy throughput and reduced waste), and sufficiency (what does society need to truly create a sustainable economic equilibrium for 7 to 10 billion people). Read more >>



Cynthia Figge, Cofounder and COO of CSRHub is a forerunner and thought leader in the corporate sustainability movement. In 1996 she co-founded EKOS International, one of the first consultancies integrating sustainability and corporate strategy. Cynthia has worked with major organizations including BNSF, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Dow Jones, Noranda and REI to help craft sustainability strategy integrated with business. She was an Officer of LIN Broadcasting/McCaw Cellular leading new services development, and started a new “Greenfield” mill with Weyerhaeuser. She serves as Advisor to media and technology companies, and served as President of the Board of Sustainable Seattle. Cynthia has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Cynthia is based in the Seattle area.

CSRHub is the preeminent source of aggregated corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information worldwide. We cover nearly 5,000 companies in 135 industries in 65 countries. With an unmatched compilation of data, we provide access to corporate indicators on employee, environment, community, and governance issues. Our 140-plus data sources span across sectors, including six socially responsible investing analysts, as well as leading indexes, NGOs, crowd sources, and government agencies. Our comprehensive analysis informs and empowers businesspeople and activists alike. These are corporate social responsibility ratings to help you change the world.