Global economic development over the past 100 years is responsible for many of the most pressing sustainability challenges. For example, the exploitation of the environment for raw materials and energy production has wrought serious environmental and societal impacts. In spite of sustainability initiatives such as the Paris Agreement to combat climate change (United Nations Climate Change 2018), greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate (World Meteorological Organization 2017). Australia remains one of the leading per capita CO2 producers, despite declines in 2009 from a carbon tax intervention that was subsequently removed in 2010, largely due to pressure from the mining industry (Linden 2012).
A prerequisite for future sustainability is businesses placing more importance on environmental and societal goals, rather than just their sales and profit targets (Mitchell et al. 2017). Such profit-driven business culture is the most significant cause of unsustainable outcomes; yet despite extensive discussion in the literature, little has been achieved in terms of changing or ameliorating this. Shareholders demand double-digit returns on their investments, translating into double-digit financial growth targets for multinational brand and marketing managers, whose annual bonuses and career prospects are dependent on these. Such targets are often realised via production cost cutting (more sustainable practices often add to production costs, so are routinely dismissed), and by promoting the consumption culture where consumers consume more and buy things that they do not need. In conjunction with the consumer’s desire for convenience, such activity is escalating public ill-health, as well as driving pollution and unsustainable waste production.