Sustainable Product Design: Designing for Abundance

The business world is driven by competition: to produce more for less, to sell more than your competitors, to make more money, to sell to more countries, and then there is a slightly different type of competition – to come up with the best idea or design a new way of doing something.

UpcycleCover_webEarlier this year, William McDonough and Michael Braungart, sustainability product design consultants,  published a book with an interesting challenge to the future of industry. Titled “The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance”, the focus of the book is a discussion of how businesses might become part of a regeneration cycle in which there is no waste or cost for ecological measures.

This book builds on their book “Cradle to Cradle: remaking the way we make things” published in 2002, calling for industry to completely let go of the production of non-recyclable productions in favor of ones that are completely non-polluting. The authors are not just idea men, they both have been working on making their ideas realities, one idea at a time.

Businesses need to find ways to eliminate dependence on non-renewable products or byproducts containing pollutants that increase costs through special handling and disposal requirements. Eco-consultants can be part of the solution to help companies think about how they manufacturer, package and dispose of product.

Five Recommended Business Books on Sustainability

The following short list is comprised of five books that offer real world guidance and advice on sustainability in business.  These books can help business owners, managers, organizational leaders and environmental managers/sustainability coordinators to improve their organization’s economic performance as well as their environmental impact.   All of these books stress how important this green evolution is for the future of our businesses, our people and our planet. We hope that you will find them to be valuable additions to your green library. If you would like to start employing green practices in your business, please contact us, we would love to help you.

The Business Guide To Sustainability: Practical Strategies and Tools For Organizations  Authors: Darcy Hitchcock and Marsha Willard

“This easy-to-use manual has been written by top business consultants specifically to help managers, business owners, organizational leaders and aspiring environmental managers/sustainability coordinators to improve their organization’s environmental, social and economic performance.”

Getting Green Done: Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution  Author: Auden Schendler

“If we’re going to cut CO2 emissions 80 percent by midcentury, it will take more than a recycling program and some hemp shopping bags. We’ll only solve our problems if we’re realistic about the challenge of climate change. In this witty book, a sustainable business foot soldier with over a decade’s worth of experience illuminates the path.”

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution Authors: Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins

“In this groundbreaking blueprint for a new economy, three leading business visionaries explain how the world is on the verge of a new industrial revolution. Natural Capitalism describes a future in which business and environmental interests increasingly overlap, and in which companies can improve their bottom lines, help solve environmental problems and feel better about what they do all at the same time.”

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things Authors: William McDonough and Michael Braungart

“Reduce, reuse, recycle” urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in their provocative, visionary book, however, this approach perpetuates a one-way, “cradle to grave” manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic.”

Green Project Management  Authors: Richard Maltzman, David Shirley

“Detailing cutting-edge green techniques and methods, this book teaches project managers how to maximize resources and get the most out of limited budgets. It supplies proven techniques and best practices in green project management, including risk and opportunity assessments.”

Sustainable Behavior Change: Tools and Resources

Doug McKenzie-Mohr, author of Fostering Sustainable Behavior and environmental psychologist has a great website to look up articles and cases studies that relate to fostering sustainable behavior. His focus is more on communities and public at large social marketing techniques but the resources and information can be applied to business too. He has five main topic areas of agriculture and conservation, energy, transportation, waste and pollution and water. Anyone can sign up for an account, just click on Account to sign up and you can access the discussion forums.

His book, Fostering Sustainable Behavior, is also available online to read. It is a comprehensive book on how to identify the behaviors a community wants to change and build a strategy around changing those  behaviors.

Tools of Change is another site that offers community-based social marketing resources. This site also has case studies as well as planning guides to help communities begin planning environmental strategies. Their topics include environmental, health and nutrition and safety.

K.J. McCorry Contributing Author to Newly Released Book: A Simple Path to Sustainability

This newly released book, A Simple Path to Sustainability,  was built around case histories showcasing 12 Colorado small to medium sized organizations that have outstanding records of sustainability. The book was designed specifically to help smaller enterprises gain knowledge on best practices as well as inspire owners and management to undertake sustainable strategies. K.J. McCorry, owner of eco-officiency and sustainability consultant is a contributing author of one of these chapters on New Belgium Brewery.

The case studies collected detail on each company’s journey from initial sustainability idea through building a comprehensive plan, establishing a new company culture, engaging stakeholders and planning for the future. Each chapter also provides the challenges encountered along with lessons learned. Here are a few of the companies that are discussed in the book; Eco-Products, Boulder Community Hospital, Boulder Outlook Hotel, Boulder Valley Credit Union, First Affirmative Financial Network and Guaranteed Recycling Xperts.

The book is now available for purchase from e-retailers such as Amazon.com and Google.com.

A Simple Path to Sustainability: Green Business Strategies for Small and Medium Sized Businesses (ISBN: 0-3133-8269-7). Edited by Fred Andreas, Elizabeth Cooperman, Blair Gifford and Graham Russell.  

Key Elements to Prepare for a Sustainability Plan: Procure Management Support

Step 1: Procure Management Support

Before getting started on developing a sustainability plan, an organization must first prepare. Making sure you have the necessary data and support is essential before developing a sustainability plan. One of the very first steps is to procure management support.

It can’t be stressed enough, sustainability initiatives won’t happen unless you have top management support within an organization . It is important to not only educate management but also increase their involvement in the sustainability program. Make sure that the CEO and all top executives are on board to support a sustainability plan. This will require time from their staff along with consistent follow-through on sustainability initiatives. Ideally, management should be involved in the entire planning process, but at the very least should provide suggestions and input into the sustainability vision and objectives.

A good book for managers is Leading Change Toward Sustainability by Bob Doppelet, that discusses a methodology that manage rs can use to successfully lead their organizations to embrace sustainability.


The Green Recovery: Book Review

Andrew Winston, author of Green to Gold, has a new book out called the Green Recovery. In his new book he offers a case for why businesses should use this ‘recession’ time to create a green strategy. He cites a number of success stories from Fortune 500 companies such as Wal-Mart, Disney, Microsoft, Toyota and others. The book is short and easy to read. Great book for managers and business owners who haven’t yet started a green and sustainability strategy. Here are a few of Andrew’s recommendations cited in his book:

  1. Start with the cheapest option and encourage behavior change from employees such as turning off lights and computers and reducing waste in the office.
  2. Automate when possible. If the behavior change is too difficult or cumbersome, automate the process such as with light sensors.
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Review what other companies and competitors are doing. Go to Share Green for a free list of best practices.
  4. Provide data to employees. Tracking and sharing data to employees has proven to have strong affect.
  5. Be Innovative. The companies that move to solve the world’s problems will be prepared for the future.
  6. Engage your employees. Give employees a base of knowledge on environmental issues and their implications for the business and their personal life.

The 7 Leadership Practices by Bob Willard

I had the chance today to hear Bob Willard discussing his new book, The Sustainability Champion’s Guidebook (New Society Publishers). The book is about leading organizations in the sustainability movement. He talks about the 7 Leadership practices essential for moving a company towards sustainability;

The Sustainability Champions

  1. Get credible, stay credible: Leaders must establish their credibility and build trust with their group and/or organization.
  2. Dialogue: Hone in on the communication skills and engage in thoughtful discussions. Be a good listener and be ready to hear about success and challenges.
  3. Collaborate, educate, network: Encourage collaboration and education among employees.
  4. Influence and influencers: Don’t do it alone, engage those individuals who have influence in an organization and seek their help, guidance and advocacy.
  5. Meet them where they are: Don’t push the skeptics, meet them where they are and show how sustainability strategies are important to their job and the organization.
  6. Piggyback existing initiatives: Create sustainability initiatives that align with current company goals and objectives.
  7. Practice ‘planful opportunism’ : Engage senior leadership in the initiatives.

If you haven’t read it yet, I also suggest Bob’s book called the Sustainability Advantage where he discusses the business case for sustainability.

Book Review: Ecological Intelligence

Daniel Goleman’s the author of Emotional Intelligence has written his new book called Ecological Intelligence. He discusses how consumers can change the world through their ‘ecological intelligence’ by making environmentally and socially conscious purchasing decisions. He reviews various sites such as Good Guide and Skin Deep that help educate consumers about the products we purchase. Not only which products are good for us but products that are good for the environment and made sustainably. He also discusses ‘radical transparency’ which encourages companies to disclose their products contents and manufacturing practises.  A good book for someone who is new to the ‘green’ movement.

Daniel Goleman did a 20 minute interview with Bill Moyers that provides a nice overview of his book.


Thomas Friedman’s “Hot, Flat and Crowded”

green globeIf you haven’t read Thomas Friedman’s latest book, Hot, Flat and Crowded…you must get it and read it! Another well-written book by Friedman that explores the Environmental impact has on our Global economy and environment. I especially love the way explores all the effects global warming will have in every aspect of our lives, our economy, our globe.