In the past, it has been hard to convince some companies that they should think about anything more than their bottom lines, but time has shown that companies who focus on a triple bottom line —economic, environmental and social — perform better by all standards.
In an effort to explore why that’s the case, Environmental Leader writer Jennifer Hermes approached five businesses and consultants — ranging from a beer maker to a botanical garden — to see how each of them view sustainability as an opportunity rather than a risk.
With a shift from “nice to have” to “must have” when it comes to sustainable business operations, it’s important to know how to make your best sustainable business.
Katja Zastrow, VP of CSR, Better World at Anheuser-Busch:
- Zastrow talks about the company's investment “in water conservation, smart agriculture, and energy efficiency, we’ve made strides in not only reducing our environmental footprint, but also supporting our bottom line over the long term. For example, water is a crucial ingredient in the brewing of the beers we all enjoy. Over the last ten years, we have reduced water use in our breweries by 48%.” They not only reduced the amount of water needed to grow wheat but also the amount needed to brew the beer. These changes are not only helping their bottom line, it’s also building a stronger community.When it comes to business being considerate of resources,
Kevin Moss, Global Director for WRI Business Center:
- “The hard truth is consumption is a critical issue for companies to be sustainable in the long term. Business models that rely on unchecked consumption and unlimited resources cannot last – they will be replaced by better models that deliver more value with the resources available. Right now, this issue is so uncomfortable that it often goes unmentioned in C-suites and Board rooms, because it requires a radically different approach.”
Richard V. Piacentini, Executive Director at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens:
- Phillps is embracing sustainability in a way that they hope will inspire and educate visitors. By modeling sustainability in demonstrable, significant ways it allows others to discover the possibilities and tangible, quantifiable benefits that are available to them. “Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) is open to visitors year round. The CSL produces all of its own energy using sun and wind, manages all water on site, and more, demonstrating to guests not the just the feasibility, but the beauty of building in a way that celebrates living in harmony with the natural world. At Phipps, the beauty of the natural world draws guests, allowing us to fulfill our mission to advance sustainability and promote human and environmental well-being through action and research. We see more organizations embracing sustainability based on the benefits including business growth and good corporate citizenship, though we have enormous opportunities and – most importantly – a societal imperative to do much more. The topic of sustainability may seem well-established, but we are just beginning as a society to drive transformational collective change and impact. Being less bad is not good enough anymore. We have to do much more.”
Rohit Shukla, CEO of the Larta Institute
- In the vein of doing more — particularly when it comes to preserving our natural resources — companies who are investing in alternate methods are likely to come out ahead. Shukla mentioned that Mobil is building its own algae farms, “to milk algae for biofuels. Regardless of what their prospects might be for extraction for fossil fuels, there is a real business case to be made to ensure a continued supply of fuel.”
When companies are open to exploring sustainable efforts, it is clear that they are serious about their business making an impact for years to come.