Many will say that the coronavirus has changed every aspect of our lives, both personal and business.
What I find most intriguing, is that a big part of this disruption and anxiety we are all facing is the result of an unbalanced supply chain. The short supply of products that we consume each and every day, from medications to bath tissue, has added tension to our already-demanding lives. For so many years we have demanded and received low-cost products to enhance our daily lifestyles. We never stopped, paused, or reflected on what these demands would ultimately cost us. Well here is how are we paying the price now, resulting in; product disruptions, inflated and criminal price gouging, and a short supply of many of our necessities; food, toiletries, disinfectants, just to name few. A breakdown of our daily medical needs, from pain relievers, peroxide, and rubbing alcohol to face masks. What went wrong? To put it simply, everything!
We have allowed the global supply chain to control some of the most important essentials, we as a nation, depend on. This did not happen without our own culpability. What has recently been exposed has shaken every country on the planet and all of us should be concerned. Offshoring our livelihoods and our basic security is borderline criminal, in light of what we are all experiencing. The evolution of “The Supply Chain” in the United States, has also been exposed. It is now time for a change!
Today, the word sustainability is tossed around too effortlessly. Many of us use it, but too few of us know how to use it. It's getting lost in translation. I have been advocating for years to bring supply chains to a local level. I’ve had many in-depth conversations, some of which were not so courteous, attempting to rationalize with peers within my industry on how shipping products and materials thousands of miles can be sustainable. They were never able to really explain or convince me otherwise, despite their attempts at using graphs, statistics, and a carbon emissions chart. I would calmly reply with; “Common sense tells me if we make something, consume it, and repurpose it, then shipping it within a specific and reasonable range of miles (400 square miles) makes sense to me”. I often refer to this phrase created by Walter R. Stahel, “Cradle to Cradle.” Their response? None.
Why?... because it makes too much sense!
Global supply chains are vulnerable when unbalanced. There are too many parts to a finished product that are sourced from too many regions of the world. Yes, we all see the financial models that reflect the cost savings in this process, but is there something we are missing? When we strip down the entire current supply chain, what we see is that the slightest disruption, large or small, can alter the process. We have seen this, many times in the past, and probably the most prevalent took place before 75% of most Americans were even born- the 1973 Oil Embargo. Our dependency and exposure took this country to its’ knees. We did learn from this by storing millions of barrels of oil (strategic oil reserve), and finally by building our internal energy structure to make us more self-reliant. This was, and will always be recognized as one of the greatest achievements of self-reliance for our great nation.
So how did we get where we are today? We've lost our way. In only four short decades we abolished our manufacturing, offshoring some of our vital products, and losing control over our destiny during the process.
Unfortunately, this wake-up call has cost us tens of thousands of American lives, destroyed our economy, and created the most stressful dilemma this country has ever endured.
We must take this opportunity and change our direction now. We must demand that our USA based companies put the citizens of this country first. After all, it was our US citizens that helped them achieve their goals and reach their current levels of success. Just to clarify, I believe in fair and free trade, and I believe there is a way to navigate and work in a global economy. However, it’s time to reflect on our mistakes and make the changes necessary that will secure our future and the future of our generations to come.
Ralph Bianculli, Sr. is the CEO & founder of Emerald Brand. He has been innovating and marketing consumable products for more than 30 years. His passion for the environment has always been the foundation for developing sustainable every-day products. The constant evolution of Emerald Brand has enabled him to achieve his ultimate goal of Walter R. Stahel’s “Cradle to Cradle” concept; the ability to aggregate (on a regional level) the raw materials from local farmers, manufacturing finished goods, and finally the repurposing back to compost.