If Adam Werbach, 36, former environmentalist prodigy and lapsed vegetarian, doesn't seem like your typical green activist, it's because he's adamantly not one. Dressed in the simple, casual corporate attire popularised by Silicon Valley's finest, the Californian candidly informs me that environmentalists make for terrible dinner conversation.
He is in the employ of several of America's most nefarious executives, and declares with a detached shrug that it would be "a good thing" if the current green bubble burst. He lambasts the Federal Government for failing to save the US auto industry whilst revelling in its "death spasms" - they are "exciting", apparently.
Only the odd university campus throwback expression about "the strange microcosm of George Bush America" prevents me from thinking I've stumbled into an interview with a Wall Street banker rather than the bright young thing elected to presidency of the Sierra Club, America's oldest and most venerable environmental organisation, at the alarmingly tender age of 23.
It is paradoxes such as these which explain how, when Werbach sits down to write a latest offering on sustainability issues that is not a green bible but rather a corporate business manifesto, his converted fellow "post-environmentalists" have long since ceased to be surprised.
Strategy for Sustainability , Werbach's new book, concerns itself with organising the great uninitiated. It doesn't stop with corporate executives, but rather represents one facet of the ambitious strategy of Saatchi & Saatchi's sustainability-oriented "S" brand, of which he is global president, to create a billion-person movement.
Just as his apathy towards the very notion of a left/right political spectrum leads him to dismiss (albeit nostalgically) any environmentalist movement not apolitical in its composition, Werbach sees no need to choose between grassroots and top-down proselytising.
In practical terms, with nearly one-third of all Americans entering Wal-Mart's doors every week while he briefs the men and women managing the shelves, the boundaries rapidly blur.
"Wal-Mart's a lot less controversial than it used to be" he declares, in softly-spoken rebuke to those former colleagues who accused him of selling out when he signed up his consultancy's biggest client in 2006. It has managed to dramatically introduce sustainability right at its business core in mid-course, he tells me, and on a scale so large that it ended up "writing standards that the government should have been writing".
And after all, why not employ its considerable resources for the planet's good? Werbach's research has uncovered that reuniting corporations with their most inherent raison d'être - to make money - tends to lead them in this direction anyhow.
Ironically, in his 1997 book Act Now, Apologise Later , Werbach referred to Warren Buffet's corporation, the world's largest publicly-listed company, as a "new breed of toxin."
But he has long since eschewed such conventional thinking, following instead the divergent path signalled by his 2004 "Is Environmentalism Dead?" speech to the California's Commonwealth Club.
The broad idea is that environmentalism has traditionally been more concerned with ideology than outcome, and thus has unduly elevated certain companies, products or outcomes only good in a single, narrow element. Contrarily it has tended to denigrate certain parties via a similarly blinkered logic.
Sustainability consultants are often accused of trying to have their cake and eat it in pursuit of an unrealistic panacea. That such paeans to moral and prudent profitability should appeal during our financially-straitened times is hardly surprising; how much happier to view General Motors' ignominious bankruptcy as an opportunity for proactive sustainable development than as the long overdue coup de grace for an industry brought to its knees by financially unviable times.
The assumption that mandatory efficiency standards such as the Obama administration's newly instated 35.5 miles to the gallon for all new cars by 2016 are not punitive coffin nails delivered by new bully owners, but the very salvation of the US$1.5 billion sector, entices far beyond environmentalist circles.
As do all good consultants', Werbach's calculations proudly exude a strong sense of pragmatism, made perhaps more ostensible through his attacks on green idealism. Impassioned bloggers' declarations that Wal-Mart is inherently "awful" and "needs to have its corporate charter revoked and then be shut down" on San Francisco Bay Guardian's website involuntarily cast Werbach's assertion, that small improvements in such places go a long way, as such.
Inevitably the reality is rather more muddled, as revealed by a closer inspection of economic principles which seem neoclassical in their confidence in the free market to ultimately demand sustainable strategy, yet positively Keynesian in their belief that regulatory action (though self-imposed) can and should aim to render companies "bubble-proof".
On the matter of the global recession, "the good thing about the credit crisis is that it forces re-evaluation of strategy", but simultaneously "companies have pulled back on those innovation investments in a capital-constrained world".
Inevitably the question remains: might not halting investment in such abominable polluters as the oil industry be the solution to environmental woes after all? It is possible to perceive in Werbach's demeanour a steady willingness for compromise that has surely shaken off the trappings of youthful anti-establishment indulgence. But it would also be disservice to mistake this recalculation for ambivalence:
Do companies which aren't based on sustainable business models, I ask, have a role to play? "Yeah - they have to die!", and there's a twinkle in the veteran activist's eye here. Not only that, but "Their role is to become carcasses that will feed the rest".
Werbach has always seemed slightly embarrassed by journalists' wilful efforts to paint him as the maverick of environmentalism, as emphasised by the self-effacing shrug I meet when I try to address his alleged air of controversy.
And to his credit, he does try to push his principles further than most. "I was with Novo Nordisk yesterday, the largest maker of diabetes medicine", he explains. "And we were talking about how to tie climate change to diabetes prevention... What we have seen is that when people are pre-diabetic and are exposed to information about global warming, they're better at beginning behaviours that will slow the chances of them getting diabetes."
So it seems it will not just be our bank accounts and the ozone layer which benefit from that trip to the recycling depot, but our bodily well-being itself. Such expansive logic, to which Werbach's strategy seems prone, is surely boosted by the short-term volatility embodied by the credit crisis:
"With the complete failure of the industry, it's a pretty good time to be born actually."
Andrew Marszal is a literary journalist with Corriere della Sera newspaper, and is a graduate of the University of Cambridge.
 Harvard Business Press 2009