What is Sustainable Business? And can a sustainable business find business sustainability? This is an important question, and one that every business owner should ask themselves now, and not necessarily because of our global climate whether societally or atmospherically, but because that focus is where business is headed.
A Sustainable Business is one that has as low as possible an impact on an environment, a society, a community, and the economy. Essentially it’s a business that meets the Triple Bottom Line, a framework to evaluate the outcome of your business in three parts: Social, Economic, and Environmental. Sustainable Businesses are conscious businesses that recognize the importance of meeting the needs of the present world without compromising the needs for future generations. Most people, when thinking about a Sustainable Business, automatically think of a Green Business, or a business which focuses primarily on the benefits of the planet. That is an aspect of the Triple Bottom Line, but it’s not the main focus. The Triple Bottom Line recognizes the importance of our social, economic, and environmental impact equally, which is to say that the environmental impact is only a third of the demands of a Sustainable Business.
I do believe in the importance of limiting our impact on the planet, as much as possible, and I appreciate that there are a number of very large, profitable companies that are maintaining Sustainable Businesses. Game Changers 500 is an organization, similar to Fortune 500, which releases a list of Sustainable, Triple Bottom Line practicing companies that are growing, and are massively profitable.
A good example of a great start is that most large, skyscraper-esque buildings being built in the world practice low impact building, while developing buildings that are themselves low impact. A LEED seal or plaque on display within or on the building is an indication of the more modern advanced environmentally friendly buildings. A number of these buildings are consuming CO2 from the atmosphere while actually producing O2, it’s amazing. That means these buildings are behaving like trees!
One of the impacts Sustainable Business focuses on is our social impact, and by that I mean many businesses are helping to provide better lifestyles for people living in underdeveloped countries, they are helping to bring these people up out of poverty, while helping to establish higher income families, that will, over the generations, be able to become consumers themselves. The idea is that helping to bring communities out of poverty will develop consumer friendly, and consciously spending people who may otherwise not have had the money to put back into the economy. When a business is conscious of its market, its environment, its employees, and its impact both now and in the future, it can only benefit the global economy. Our current economic system, and business development, though it is shifting dramatically to that of Sustainability, is one that either keeps people in-, or forces people further into poverty. How does that benefit a business?
There are business of all kinds making these changes: publishing companies, wineries, groceries, coffee and teahouses, banks, construction, and more.
It’s important as a business owner, and a consumer to understand the benefits of Sustainable Business.
As a consuming we must recognize that, especially in The United States, where we spend our money is the loudest, and most demanding vote that we make, and we are making it daily. Where we spend our money will help to provide the foundation of business in the future, and the types of business that will thrive. Be conscious about it.
As a business owner, even a small business, look into the benefits of using local materials, recyclable materials, and look for ways to help your community, to invest in your community, and to invest in the people of your community. Small things really do make a difference. People will go to one coffeeshop over another because of where they get their milk, or whether it’s organic or not. And this is true of every business we shop at, and develop.
There are creative ways of being a Sustainable Business. CommuniTea Books, my bookstore in Boerne, Texas, buys Fair Trade teas, and is constantly looking for ways to better the community where the tea leaves come from—all over the world. Guayakí brand Yerba Maté is giving a large percentage of their profits back to the region in South America where Maté is grown. The tea plant isn’t healthy in the area, and a lot of the forests are dying. Guayakí is helping to restore the regions forests so that the plant can once again grow naturally, and healthy so that not only the region can mature, and develop again naturally and economically, but also so that Guayakí can continue to provide a better product to the companies customers.
When you get the opportunity watch the documentary PROSPERITY. It is an amazing account of exactly what I’m talking about, and provides further insight into the benefits of Sustainable Business. Our current systems are not conscious business, and as a result they do not maintain sustainability. To have business sustainability today you have to be a sustainable business.
Get behind companies such as Collective Evolution, Rodale Inc., Thrive Market, The Container Store, Change.org, Aspiration, Reserveage, and more, and look in New Resource Bank, and demand that your community offers a banking system as conscious, and community friendly as New Resource.
There are 5 ways that you can start making a difference, you as an individual (Via Prosperity Documentary):
Reading is deeply personal for me, the act of-, and the subject has always come from a place of familiarity. It has never mattered, either, what I’m reading, or what I’ve read. There have been a number of people throughout my life whom have inspired to engage with me about books, and stories because I’m a writer, an avid reader, and a book collector. However, I don’t enjoy talking to people about the stories that I read. Even when describing, or explain a plot, I have never felt comfortable opening up to a person about the subject of any book that I have ever read. Still, people try, and they will never not want to converse with me about what I have read.
I will, instead change the subject, slightly, to similar books or authors, and if at all possible about parallel philosophies, anything that will redirect the conversation.
I have been asked many, many times to review books for people. Just today I read a message on LinkedIn from a publisher asking if I would consider reviewing, they have several ARC’s out this month. And I have reviewed books, in the past, and I enjoy it—which is strange. I’m a writer, I enjoy the process, and the means in which ideas, philosophies, and themes come to life from a place within ourselves, and sometimes, depending on who you ask from elsewhere. From above. The Great Creator…from somewhere else.
Sharing ideas, even someone else’s idea in a way that is both illuminating and developing simultaneously intrigues me. I have always preferred expressing ideas more when I write them then I do when I verbalize them. I have had a long-time internal conflict with that process. Our society has led us to believe that there are very specific, and exclusive behaviors that are more acceptable than others, and those that not only accept but prefer those means are rewarded. And though I enjoy talking to people; I love the art of conversation, it can never compare to how I feel, and what I’m capable of expressing when I’m writing.
I recently, watched a TED Talk with Matt Goldman. He described his 3rd grade music class: everyone was brought into a room, with a piano, and the teacher played ‘C,’ the 9 year olds were all asked to sing, to hold the ‘C,’ and after each student stood and sang they were asked to stand in one, of two groups. Finally, after everyone had finished singing, one of the two groups, the group that Matt Goldman was in, was asked to leave, Goldman explains that he did not have another music class until Middle School. Similarly, in an English class years later a paper he had written was returned to him, he received a C+ on the paper, which, apparently, he was pleased with, because it wasn’t a C-, or a D. Except that underneath the lettered grade, written in pen, was the note, “As good as could be expected.” Which, Goldman says, stung a little. Matt Goldman went on to cofound the Broadway sensation, Blue Man Group. Making a career of writing, music, and almost everything else. Sir Ken Robinson gave a TED Talk titled Do schools kill creativity? In which he describes a young girl who was often getting into trouble in school because she could not stop moving. Finally, after trying a number of things, her mother took her to a psychologist. The three persons sat in his office, the girl struggling to keep still, but being very respectful and kind. After several minutes of talking the psychologist asked to speak with her mother outside. The two stepped outside and he explained to the mother that he didn’t really want to talk to her, he wanted to see what the young girl would do once the adult left the room. Inside the girl was on her feet, and dancing away. The psychologist turned to her mother and said, “There’s nothing wrong with your daughter. She’s a dancer. She needs to dance, to think.” That young girl is Gillian Lynne, who went on to earn more than 60 stage credits, most as Choreographer for notable shows such as Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. Neither Matt Goldman nor Gillian Lynne may not have accomplished what they had if they listened to, or were met with an opposition that may have paralyzed them.
When I write I think differently, more creatively, more introspectively, and when I’m reading there is a similar relationship with the subject. People, sometimes, well, often, don’t understand that. When I review a book—with the exception of one situation—the author has met my review with great gratitude, and that’s, most likely, because of how intimate reading is for me. When writing a review I attempt to keep my review as commercial and unbiased as possible, but as a writer and a reader, as someone who feels a deep connection with story, and the written word, it’s exceptionally difficult for me not to relate to something, and in a very personal way.
I love to read, but I do not love to talk about what I read. I don’t enjoy sharing my experience with the book. Maybe it’s an occupational hazard, or maybe some words and thoughts and feelings, for me, are not meant to be shared or expressed. The way I relate to people, in this way, is by putting a book in their hand, telling them to forget the world, and to read. To just read.
I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.