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.
Earlier 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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
In today’s sustainability world, one of the biggest barriers for most individuals is to understand all the phrases and terminology associated with sustainability. Phrases like Farm to Table, Natural Capitalism, Pasture Raised, Food Miles, Food Security and Biomimicry can be confusing to consumers, workers and employees on what they mean and how they apply.
There are two projects that are helping in this sustainability terminology confusion. The Lexicon of Sustainability is a project by Douglas Gayeton who has done photographs and images to represent these sustainability words. They have a program whereas you can display these photos in your local community or office building for a period of time, to help educate staff.
The International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) also has a lexicon project in progress. This project brings together a diverse group of sustainability professionals to build a common consensus and definition on the terminology used by sustainability professionals.
The following is a list of resources that provide a glossary of sustainability terminology;
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.
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.