Stewardship is more than an ideal: it is an activity. One of SeaTrust Institute's friends and supporters, Dustin Wilson, offers the following essay on how he sees his role as a business owner in an industry not often associated with environmental stewardship: the paint industry.
"I have no right to think a house painter can start a movement or participate in the progress of industrial ecological change. Neither do the normal citizens of north Africa see that they have a right to make such progress against long standing governments. Their progress attracted my imagination and I am adjusting my thinking. Perhaps normal painters can bring about a more peaceful and mutual yet radical change in the ecological future of the painting industry. There is a lot of pent up desire to do the right thing at the end user side. The painters I know are doing what they can to minimize waste, recycle, reuse paint, and care for water quality. To get to the next step we need the help of the manufacturers. Like McDonalds.
McDonalds sells fast food and customers receive it across the counter. At that instant, the product and all its 'wrappings' becomes the responsibility of the customer. When a customer litters with the wrappings it is not McDonalds responsibility is it? Of course not. At least not in the legal sense. But maybe there a way to think about corporate responsibility that allows the board of directors and the share holders to consider a larger picture of responsibility. This new kind of corporation would see that problem (with litter) and do what it can to alleviate it because it cares about a larger sphere of benefit.
Paint manufacturers have much the same kind of decision to make. Their products are littering millions of garages and basements and most of this ends up in the local landfill. Paint manufacturers need to see this as part of their responsibility. I have painted for more than 30 years and just like being responsible for my burger wrapper, I have always figured that the coating manufacturers have the responsibly for the product until it leaves the store and from there I have to responsibly use and deal with all the waste and by-products. As the end user I have accepted all the responsibility of waste recycling and disposal. I need help from the manufacturers to know how to more.
Paint manufacturing companies need to get on the fast track toward sustainable practices. They need to enable purchasers of their product (painting contractors and home owners) to do the responsible thing with the resultant waste. Paint manufacturing companies need to develop and make public their plans for an ecologically sustainable future that includes the inevitable waste created on every project. If they do so, I believe, unlike the north African revolutions, paint manufacturers will have the help of thousands of painters and home owners. Normal painters are willing to help the industry develop a master plan of ecological sustainability of our industry. As one normal house painter, I volunteer to be a part of the plan. Are there any other volunteers? "
--Dustin Wilson, Flying Colors Painting Company