Tag Archives: Sustainable Business

Defining Sustainability: Triple Bottom Line

This 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. 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  Continue Reading »

CSR: Going Beyond Compliance, Risk Management, and Philanthropy

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) focuses on the “people” and “planet” aspects of the Triple Bottom Line.  This is a corporation’s initiatives to take a proactive approach to managing its impacts on the environment and society.  Proactive being the keyword, meaning that the business implements programs to lessen harmful impacts and amplify positive impacts before it is forced to by regulation, industry, or its constituents. Beyond Compliance CSR programs are voluntary and are not enforceable by regulating agencies.  In fact, a strong CSR program goes above and beyond what regulation requires.  A simple example of this would be an organization that uses the Clean Water Act as a benchmark and sets goals to reduce contaminating releases to a set standard below what the act allows.  A more robust program would also implement a program that educates employees on the effects of pollution and partners with organizations that work to protect local bodies of water. Beyond Risk Management While Corporate Social Responsibility could be looked at as a form of risk management in that it keeps an organization ahead of the curve in terms of changing regulation and customer demands, CSR goes beyond risk management in the traditional sense.  Generally speaking, risk  Continue Reading »

The Larger Costs of Sustainability: The Shipping Industry

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis It is obvious that doing the little things to become sustainable, like reducing energy and paper consumption and trash reduction, can be very rewarding and cost relatively little to implement. However, what about the major operations that can end up costing billions of dollars to implement substantial sustainability initiatives in their sector? The transportation sector has been able to implement more fuel efficient vehicles in their fleets to help reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, but there is still an even bigger energy user that may be commonly overlooked. Almost all consumer goods are shipped from their manufacturing origin to their destinations by overseas shipping, something many may not usually think about. As you recall these massive shipping vessels, you may clue in to how much fuel it may take to transport those thousands of shipping containers processed at ports around the US a day. This then represents a very massive area of human existence that is extremely unsustainable. As with many of the sustainability problems, this one does have solutions that have been developed through modern technology to create more sustainable overseas shipping. However, it is not as simple as  Continue Reading »

The Concept of Natural Capital

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis Every company deals with capital when figuring out how to operate their business and observing how the business is performing. Companies in the United States operate under a capitalist economic system, where capital goods are owned by individuals who use them to create a product or service to sell for a profit. This is nothing new of course, but it then feeds in to how some people feel that the dwindling free natural resources of the world need to be accounted for economically. This brings about the concept of natural capital, which was first foreshadowed by President Roosevelt in 1937 when he talked about how the Earth’s permanent capital, natural resources, were being transformed into wealth faster than the real wealth was being replaced. The term natural capital was first used by E.F. Schumacher in 1973 in his book “Small is Beautiful.” What natural capital does is essentially place a value on the things we amass from the Earth for free, like clean water, air, and trees. In the dollars of today, a 1997 research group valued the entire biosphere at $47 trillion dollars. It seems like this notion has been  Continue Reading »

Interior Secretary Nominee Sally Jewel’s Sustainability Leadership with REI

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis As sustainability and having a conscious effort to protect the environment have become more important, government has shifted to attempt to adopt good environmental policies. A very important government sector to this is the Department of the Interior. Since the new government has taken office there must be someone to take the head of this department as the Interior Secretary. This position is very important for sustainability and environmental consciousness because of how much land the department manages. President Obama has the position to elect such a person to head the Department of the Interior as the Interior Secretary and the person that has been named is Sally Jewell. She is currently the CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), a popular outdoors company that is based out of the Pacific Northwest. Jewel also has experience in the oil sector, working for Mobil and Exxon in the past, giving her a very well rounded experience in the important things that the Interior Secretary would deal with. Currently, Jewell’s work at REI has been a highlight in sustainability, making her a standout for President Obama. She has driven REI to implement sustainability on  Continue Reading »

Infographic: How to Run a Paperless Office

Ok, so no office is going to run 100% paperless.  Not in the near future, anyway.  There are, however, many opportunities for reducing the amount of paper used in your office and here is a fun infographic that breaks it down into four main steps:  switch to electronic faxing, electronic contracts, and paperless billing, and scan and recycle documents.  It also lists items for which paper originals should be kept, paper copies plus digital copies should be kept, and temporary paper files should be kept.  This provides a good rule of thumb if you are looking for where to start reducing your paper usage.  Remember, just because you are not ready to go full bore does not mean you can’t start somewhere.   Source: visual.ly Enjoy infographics?  Check out New Leaf’s board on Pinterest!  

Lessons from Dell’s Bamboo Packaging Story

In this interview (How Dell Turned Bamboo and Mushrooms Into Environmental-Friendly Packaging) by MIT Sloan Management Review, John Pflueger, Principal Environmental Strategist for Dell, talks about innovations in packaging, Dell’s sustainability structure, and goal setting.  It is always refreshing to learn about how Big Business successfully integrates sustainability into their business model.  The article gives examples of two key concepts:  sustainability fosters supply chain innovation and corporate sustainability needs centralized leadership. Fostering Supply Chain Innovation Dell wanted a new kind of packaging for their high-tech products.  They wanted something that was sourced near the point of use to limit resources used in transportation of the packaging materials, something that was easy to replace, and something that could be recycled and composted.  So they found a Chinese company that was interested in using bamboo, native to China and rapidly renewable, the same way that paper is used to make cardboard packaging.  This story is a great example of how a corporation can foster supply chain innovation through sustainability planning.  Dell was involved in the development of the product, making sure that it was sourced sustainably according to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines, and they even walked the supply chain.  The result  Continue Reading »

Basic Sustainability Concepts and Why Businesses Adopt Them

Sustainability Planning can seem like a big, complicated, even scary ordeal to those who are new to sustainable business concepts.  Let’s break it down.  Sustainability planning is really just establishing some thoughtful goals and creating a plan to achieve them.  Goals should be given much thought and discussion and should align with the overall business philosophy and vision, and they should be challenging while attainable.  That can still seem very open-ended and indeterminate.  Let’s break it down a bit more.  Here are some basic sustainable business concepts that may help. ECO-EFFICIENCIES The easiest concept to sell, eco-efficiencies include reducing resource consumption, reducing material waste, and reducing landfill contributions through recycling and reuse.  Businesses see direct savings from eco-efficiencies.   SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES Innovating products and services that positively impact the environment and community gives companies a competitive edge.  This requires forward-thinking, entrepreneurial-minded leaders who are not afraid of taking risks and who understand the long-term impact of the products and services they sell.   STAKEHOLDER AND SHAREHOLDER ENGAGEMENT Collaborating with everyone who is touched by its products or services allows a company to truly understand what their customers want and need; what their employees need to be happy,  Continue Reading »

Infographic: The Business Case for CSR

Still wondering how Corporate Social Responsibility can benefit your business?  This infographic gives a quick look. (Click infographic for larger view) Source: visual.ly via New Leaf Sustainability Consulting on Pinterest Like infographics?  Check out our board on Pinterest.     

Video Post: Andrew Winston talks about Green Recovery

In this Harvard Business Publishing interview, Andrew Winston talks about how businesses should innovate beyond the products and services they sell to come out of the economic downturn on top of their market sector. Innovation does not just mean exciting new products and services.  It can also mean rethinking processes and procedures; and when companies focus their innovation toward green practices, they are setting themselves up to save money, gain competitive advantage, and be more successful when the economy begins to improve.  Large companies like Subaru and Walmart are already doing this.  Watch this 12 minute video for more.