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photo from bgu.businessschool.com
What is a Sustainable Business? And can a sustainable business find business sustainability? These are an important questions, and one that every business owner should be asking themselves now, and not necessarily because of our global climate whether it be societal or geological, but because sustainable business for business sustainability is where the future of 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 what is known as 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. 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 Business practices, 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 buildings being built today practice low impact building, while developing buildings that are themselves low to negative 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. But how does that benefit a business?
There are business of all kinds making sustainable changes: publishing companies, wineries, groceries, coffee and teahouses, banks, construction, and more.
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It’s important as a business owner, and a consumer to understand the benefits of Sustainable Business.
As a consumer we must recognize that, especially in The United States, the way that we spend our money is the loudest, and most demanding means of conscious and effective voting that we have, and we are polling daily. Where, and how we spend our money will help to provide the foundation of business--and political transitioning—for our future, and the types of business that will thrive. Be conscious about it.
As a business owner, especially a small business, look into the benefits of using local materials, recyclable materials, and look for ways to help your community, and to invest in your community, and to invest in the people in 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 Organic 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 its indigenous 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 based on the practices of conscious commerce, and as a result they do not maintain sustainability. In order to maintain business sustainability in the future you will have to be a sustainable business.
Get behind companies such as Collective Evolution, Rodale Inc., Thrive Market, The Container Store, Change.org, Aspiration, Reserveage, Natural Grocers 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, as an individual: