What Is Sustainability?
A question posed and posted by GreenBiz’s Joel Makower a little over a month ago asks,
By Richard Romano
Published: May 3, 2013
While sustainability is about the future of our society, for today’s industries and businesses, it is also about commercial success. The mandate to transform businesses to respect environmental limits while fulfilling social wants and needs has become an unparalleled platform for innovation on strategy, design, manufacturing and brand, offering massive opportunities to compete and to adapt to a rapidly evolving world.Not a lot in terms of action items, but there is a hint of how to instill the excitement that is a prerequisite to pursuing any action items. That is, the best way to get anyone excited about anything—sad to say—is money. Commercial success. Talk to any company that has implemented sustainable practices, and nine times out of 10 you will find that it has, if not made, then it has saved them money. Sustainability is largely about reducing waste—and there are few downsides (if any) to reducing waste. But there must be more to it than that—and there is. In a follow-up to Mr. Makower’s post, Bob Willard and Chad Park look for a possible “gold standard” for sustainable businesses. They identify Interface’s Mission Zero initiative, which is broken down into three broad areas:
Sustain the environment by taking nothing from the earth that we cannot easily and rapidly replace. Sustain society by educating our employees and associates on our impact on the environment and helping them create solutions that reduce our footprint. Sustain our economic health by creating products and solutions that are not only environmentally-friendly, but profitable as well.The last one raises a good point: the company must be able to sustain itself, and that means being profitable. There are also The Four System Conditions that can be used as guiding principles for sustainable businesses. Ultimately, it's about being innovative. Anyone who is serious about their business thrives on being innovative—or at least they should. After all, that's what gets the real entrepreneur excited.