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Green GraphsThis article was adapted from this original article by New Leaf founder, Laura Bailey.

A common sentiment among business execs is that being green is too expensive.  Well of course it is too expensive when you take the stance that in order for a corporation to be “sustainable”, it must focus solely on conserving natural resources regardless of costs.  Let’s take a look at a different approach for defining sustainability:  The Triple Bottom Line.

Sometimes referred to as TBL, 3BL, The Three Pillars, or The Three Ps (People, Profit, Planet), it all boils down to the same basic concept:  success should be measured using economic, ecological, and societal criteria rather than profit alone.  Therefore, a sustainable business is one that operates at the intersection of Economic Growth, Social Equity, and Environmental Stewardship.  Rather than having a separate “Sustainability Strategy”, this balanced approach guides the organization to align its sustainability goals with its business strategy, or better yet, to integrate sustainability into its business strategy.

Triple Bottom Line Venn

The Triple Bottom Line is a powerful business philosophy.  A corporation that is sustainable by this definition enjoys profits while improving the lives of the people it is connected to and protecting the environment.   While a focus on maximizing profits often leads to short-sighted business decisions, using the Triple Bottom Line leads to stronger analysis and understanding of resource availability (human, capital, and natural) and developing strategies to ensure sustainability of resources.  With this kind of forward-thinking model, a sustainable business is set up for long term success.