It may bring you some comfort to know that in Europe and in a few countries in particular, sustainability is
part of the start-up environment.
Perhaps the reason why Europe is ahead of the States is that we have long moved beyond sustainability being only about the environment. In many circles social enterprises are hotter than sustainable enterprises. In the end it is about a new way of doing business that is not all about financial profits.
For many of the reasons stated above, concentrating on the environment can be challenging. Let's be honest, being a start-up is difficult, being a sustainable start-up is just that much harder. It's only for the brave and truly dedicated. Those willing to sacrifice for the bigger picture. Those who look beyond themselves.
A balance between people, profits and the planet fits better within the old models we know and tend to stick to. The green movement even scares some.
It seems that many of the reasons stated above are based on "money" and perhaps this is why Europe (I live in the Netherlands) is also further down the road. The social systems in place in much of Europe have shown us that money is only one thing we can measure to determine success. Fulfilment, purpose and working for the bigger picture are just as, if not more important to many entrepreneurs.
We like money too but it seems in some places chasing the almighty dollar is the only way to measure success. Hardcore capitalism has not gotten us to a very good place. Take a look around.
Check out the B Corp movement which was started in the USA but is booming in Europe because we have been setting up our businesses with these values and principle as the driving force for over 10 years.
Attracting young talent, being able to distance yourself from pretenders and tapping into a growing network of like minded businesses is helping many sustainable companies succeed.
VC's are only one source of capital. Impact investors are another and there are more and more people who have money to invest and are looking to use it in a way that will make the world a better place. A longer term vision with a much bigger payoff - our children and grandchildren having a nice life style like we have had.
Sure it is still the early stages but if you look at what is going on in Europe in particular, you may find that actually sustainability is part of the early stages of most start-ups. Maybe you are just in the wrong place.
Thankfully money for money's sake may have worked for my generation but I think the younger generations are just smarter than that.
Funny if you look at the comments. Older people are all about the money, the younger people sees things differently. The world will be much better off when the "greed is good" generations have left the building. At 53, my generation is also all about the money for the most part. Talk to a 24 year old and there is a big difference. Thank goodness for youth! Move over old farts!