I was asked recently if this sustainability movement was over. I have to admit I was puzzled by the question. I asked my friend what he meant? He said, “You know, the leaked climate change emails, the Copenhagen meltdown,the head of the U.N. Climate Chief resigned, and BP, Caterpillar and ConocoPhillips not renewing their memberships in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. With all this bad news doesn’t that make you think that this sustainability thing has ran its course?”
That’s when it hit me. He thinks sustainability is only about climate change!
Remember the expression, “You can’t see the forest for the trees”? That expression came to mind this past week during a discussion on sustainability.
I was having lunch with a colleague and she was saying that the Triple Bottom line should be described as “Profit, People and Planet”. I mentioned that it was most commonly referred to as “People, Planet and Profits”.
She said that we were saying the same thing, that it was just semantics and moved on to another topic. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I didn’t think we were really discussing semantics. Continue reading
I was in a meeting recently and one of the designers in the room said “I think we should use the newest approach to design, biomimicry.” I almost fell out of my chair. “Newest approach?” This approach isn’t new. Da Vinci studied birds in flight to better understand how man could fly.
I didn’t say anything, and trust me, that took great restraint. I caught myself and realized that with all of the recent “green” and “sustainability” buzz going around some people were just now getting exposed to this and other sustainable development concepts.
Which brings us to today’s blog, “What is Biomimicry?”.
In 1994, Interface founder and chairman Ray Anderson set an audacious goal for his commercial carpet company: to take nothing from the earth that can’t be replaced by the earth. Now, in the most inspiring business book of our time, Anderson leads the way forward and challenges all of industry to share that goal.
The Interface story is a compelling one: In 1994, making carpets was a toxic, petroleum-based process, releasing immense amounts of air and water pollution and creating tons of waste. Continue reading
I’ve written about sustainability and its impacts for and on big business and large organizations in the past. I’ve tried to keep the topics focused on how sustainability can help them adjust or modify their policies, practices and procedures.
So, indulge me for a minute here. Too often we get caught up in the “Big Picture” of corporate activities and lose sight of the millions of little companies that are out there working every day to help us keep this economy turning.
On a recent business trip I stumbled on one such company, and it made me stop and think about the importance that these guys have on helping to create truly sustainable local communities and economies.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re gathered in a conference room, the senior leader in the room says that the purpose of this meeting is to establish your company’s environmental, sustainability, or recycling goals, pick your topic. Now here’s where it gets good. The meeting is scheduled for 30 minutes and she needs the goals for her meeting with the executives tomorrow.
Don’t laugh. I’ve been there. If you haven’t, good for you. You are one of the fortunate ones. I’m still surprised that after all this time we still have the mentality that goals can be pulled out of the air and then we act shocked when we are unable to accomplish the, often publicly, stated goals.
So, how do you go about establishing goals for your programs? Is their a better way? I think so and that’s what we are going to talk about. Continue reading
Low hanging fruit…you’ve heard it before. When you are trying to get your organization started down the sustainability path, consultants and authors tell you to reach for the low hanging fruit. They want you to succeed, so they point you in the direction of quick wins. For many of them your waste stream is one of the first places they encourage you to look, and by waste stream they are referring to what you place in a dumpster. They talk about examining what it is that you are placing into the dumpster. They want you to be able to identify the items that you are throwing away and re-think how they got there. This is something you should do, but lately I’ve had several companies remark when I was introduced to them as the guy that is going to help us identify waste reduction measures say, “Oh, you’re the guy who is going to start our recycling program.” In my head, I’m thinking, “Oh, if it were only that easy!”
Over and over I have the same discussion with sustainability professionals, they want to know what they can do to enhance their presentations to fully engage their listeners, to open their audience’s mind to the possibilities that exist. Many times when they have a chance to talk about what they were doing or what they were planning to do within their organization they felt as if their message and plans were falling on deaf ears. Their audience was constantly checking their blackberry’s or looking as if they wished they were in any place other than sitting in a room listening to him or her speak.
Sound familiar? Continue reading
One of my favorite television programs is the Andy Griffith Show, and one of my all time favorite episodes is “Bargain Day”, or as some refer to it, the “Call the Man” episode. In the episode Aunt Bee, searching for a bargain, buys 150 pounds of meat from the new butcher in town only to have her freezer go on the fritz! I love this episode so much that I designed a training class around it.
So now you’re wondering how in the world does Andy Griffith fit into business, sustainability or strategy?!? Continue reading
Growing up in the United States I’ve heard America referred to as “The Land of Plenty” or “The Disposable Society”. The quote “Go West young man” was often said to me as a young man, maybe jokingly or perhaps they were serious, while I was wondering what to do as I grew up. (And before you email, yes, the quote first appeared as the title to the 1851, Terre Haute Express editorial written by Mr. Soule and is often credited to Mr. Greeley.)
These expressions implied to me that we were living in a limitless country. Free to use what we wanted, expand as we wanted with no thought to where the next supply of “stuff” was coming from. Continue reading