The Triple Bottom Line

John ElkingtonIn 1994 John Elkington coined the term, “Triple Bottom Line” (TBL). He has written that he was looking for a new language to express the expansion of the environmental agenda that his company SustainAbility had been focused on. John felt that the social and economic dimensions that had been presented in the Brundltland Report needed to be addressed by his firm in order to affect real change.

TBL framework allows an organization to focus on not only the economic value they create, but also on the social and environmental value they create or decrease. Continue reading

Greenwashing

greenwash“Green is the new black”, “It’s not easy being green” or “Clean and Green” take your pick. It seems like we have an abundant supply of green marketing slogans and they get the mainstream press. I guess it makes sense, they are marketing materials and companies are paying big bucks to get their message heard above everyone else’s. I think that this may also be one of the reasons why so many people only view sustainable development as a marketing activity. There is even a website that is dedicated to evaluating green advertising, greenwashingindex.com.

So, what is greenwashing? Continue reading

Why Such a Fuss?

Herman Daly

Herman Daly

So, why all of the fuss now over this thing called sustainability? You hear it everywhere, people are talking about it at meetings and conferences are being held in its name. What was the tipping point that brought this concept to mainstream America. I’ve heard it described as the perfect storm; Katrina, Al Gore’s Oscar and then the Nobel Peace Prize.

This may have given the environmental issues of the planet press coverage, but what about the Social and the Financial aspects? What caused them to be pushed to the boardroom and news desk? Asked another way, have the Social and Financial aspects been pushed to the forefront? Continue reading

Sustainability, a Competitive Business Strategy

strategyFor years we in the business world have had an adversarial relationship with the environment. Think about it, we even call it Environmental Compliance. Compliance, doesn’t that mean that we are meeting the established rules. We saw it as a cost of doing business, something that we had to do. We didn’t look at it as a possible area of differentiation, innovation or cost reduction. It was just a problem child that we had to deal with. Continue reading

What is Sustainability?

Mark HarmonWhat is sustainability? That’s a question that I get asked over and over. When I’m asked that, I want to give them a good-old Jethro Gibbs whack to the back of their head. You know the one I’m talking about. Mark Harmon, NCIS, whacking Tony on the back of  his head whenever he says or does something stupid.

Yes, I know. I can’t walk around whacking people on the back of the head. Not really a sustainable activity for long-term employment.

So let’s start here: Continue reading

Persuasive Sustainability

david

“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.” – David Ogilvy

Last week I was at a conference and I was asked what was one of the main things I would suggest that people do when they start talking about sustainability initiatives. I think I surprised everyone with my answer. I got the impression that they were looking for some deep insight that would part the murky sea of sustainability. I told the moderator that I would recommend that they talk about sustainability in the same language that their coworkers and managers used. Continue reading

Seed of Sustainability, or Just a good memory

StorytellingOk, so what does a movie have to do with the “Seed of Sustainability”? That’s the question that I got after my last post. It is a simple answer really, Storytelling!

Remember, we had done the corporate speak, we had our crisp and clean PowerPoints and pages of statistics and we had gotten no where. What I had forgotten was that I still had to persuade the audience to allow me to move forward. I had to get them to relate to what I was telling them and to make my information their information. Continue reading

Sustainability and Star Wars

So it begins...Thirty-two years ago today, Stars Wars was released. A generation would be exposed to a new type of motion picture and the seed of sustainability was born within me. The funny thing is, I just didn’t know it yet.

I know it sounds strange, and no I am not a Sci-fi fanatic. I was however one of hundreds that where waiting in the longest line I had every seen wrapped around the Bel-Air Cinema that wonderful summer night in Mobile, Alabama.

I have wondered how I could write about sustainability and how I could share the experiences I have had over the years working with waste minimization, environmental and social causes. Tonight as I clicked through the channels I stumbled on “Star Wars”, I stopped to watch and it hit me! This was the movie that contained the scene that I had used to finally win over executives at one of the largest retailers in America. Continue reading