Category Archives: Footprints

Totnes – The worlds first transition town (docu)

Transition Town Totnes (TTT) is a dynamic, community-led and run charity that exists to strengthen the local economy, reduce the cost of living and build our resilience for a future with less cheap energy and a changing climate.

TTT is not a ‘membership’ organisation, but a collection of local volunteers with a small staff team, who come together to work on projects. Anyone can be involved.

Our projects and groups are ever-changing and evolving, and we always welcome new ideas. Our work ranges from increasing low impact affordable housing, sharing skills, creating livelihoods, reducing energy costs and carbon emissions, growing our local food economy and working in partnership with other local projects.

An interesting documentary about Totnes and why its important for us to change our way of thinking and living.

A documentary asking whether it could be said that our lives were, or weren’t, more resilient in the recent past. A film created by Susana Martinez, Rob Hopkins and Emilio Mula.

(featured image –

Alan Watts – Why money rules your life

Interesting thoughts about a subject that does affect us all. Alan Watts in his element…questioning…provokating and challenging our own understanding and perspective on money. Really worth watching and listening!


Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, England, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master’s degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest in 1945, then left the ministry in 1950 and moved toCalifornia, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.

Watts gained a large following in the San Francisco Bay Area while working as a volunteer programmer at KPFA, a Pacifica Radiostation in Berkeley. Watts wrote more than 25 books and articles on subjects important to Eastern and Western religion, introducing the then-burgeoning youth culture to The Way of Zen (1957), one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism. In Psychotherapy East and West (1961), Watts proposed that Buddhism could be thought of as a form of psychotherapy and not a religion. He consideredNature, Man and Woman (1958) to be, “from a literary point of view — the best book I have ever written.”[2] He also explored human consciousness, in the essay “The New Alchemy” (1958), and in the book The Joyous Cosmology (1962).

Towards the end of his life, he divided his time between a houseboat in Sausalito and a cabin on Mount Tamalpais. Many of his books are now available in digital format and many of his recorded talks and lectures are available on the Internet. According to the critic Erik Davis, his “writings and recorded talks still shimmer with a profound and galvanizing lucidity.”[3] ( – 2016)

(featured image –

Tristram Stuart: The global food waste scandal (watch)

Western countries throw out nearly half of their food, not because it’s inedible — but because it doesn’t look appealing. Tristram Stuart delves into the shocking data of wasted food, calling for a more responsible use of global resources.

(featured image –

Donald Trump – The false Prophet

With great sadness I had to watch the inauguration today and with me a millions of other people all around the world. Thousands of people at the White House appreciating, applauding, believing in another false Messiah who would solve all their problems.

Donald Trump finally made it on stage of the world, riding high on the illusion to know what needs to be done.

Serious but proud some of the few ex-presidents showed their faces into the cameras, might remembering the day when it was their turn to take over the world.

It took 45. Presidents and things of course have changed but not only because they have been in power – because of the course of time. Things will always change, from the good to the bad, from the low to the high and back, this is a natural law. Its called progress, transformation and it happens everyday.

Somehow it seems in all of mankind evolution we still don’t get it, we still truly believe that there must be at least one person out there who could solve all our and the world problems at the same time. Someone who is bigger than us, more intelligent than us, someone with more power, more potential, more whatsoever – some people call him God. In America again – they call him president.

Inspired by a poem of Thomas Paine who was one of the Founding Fathers of America in his writings “The Rights of Man” he stated in 1776:

Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”



Looking at America today, 45th Presidents later I am asking myself, what happened? Wondering if the hundreds of years of American presidency has done any good? If so, where are we now?

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs.

We will bring back our borders.

We will bring back our wealth, and we will bring back our dreams.”

                                                – Donald Trump

These are the words that we were able to hear today and somehow it made me think. Yes, people will believe that they need someone to rescue them as long as they been told that they need to be rescued. Yes, people will defend themselves and start living in fear when someone makes them believe that there is an enemy out there who needs to be destroyed. Yes, people will keep on believing and hoping for a new Messiah as long as they don’ t wake up and realize that there is nothing to be saved from.

America has never lost anything, furthermore it has been one of the biggest countries in the world, build by immigrants was it the first country based on diversity. America is build from hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow and people still carry that believe within them.

Not realizing that there never will be that so called the better tomorrow and when it finally arrives – it wont last.

It is only an illusion.

Even I was trapped in this thought for nearly all of my life. Fed by a society that constantly would tell me that only if I had this job, or that education, much money or possession than life would be good. Only then I would not need to fear any evil. After years of chasing, learning, working hard and finally achieving my goals – I felt miserable. Betrayed. The glory of a better tomorrow only lasted a few moments and then I heard the voice again. If you only…had this or that..then …..

It is a lie and always will be.

Life will always be full of challenges and so called obstacles, only to make us grow to our full potential. This is a natural law too.

It happens to expand our horizons, to make us more conscious and more aware of the present moment. Since I started walking the spiritual path I realized that the course of time is always changing and nothing lasts forever, at the same time nothing can be lost. Love is the only religion I want to follow and compassion is my spiritual practice. I learnt that sometimes losing one thing is necessary so I can gain something else and often when I thought I would be lost I suddenly found myself.

America doesn’t need to win – it already has won, probably more than 2/3 of the whole human population ever will. Donald Trumps saying of bringing back the jobs might be a good intention but its an illusion. Nothing can be brought back that is gone. Furthermore blaming it on immigrants is more than useless, Mr. Trump who probably haven’t realized that not the immigrants are taken Americans jobs but the course of time. The increase of modern technology as well as the massive use of the internet has caused major job losses in the last decade and will continue to do so. This is the prize we pay for living in a modern world but also a prize we gain which comes more freedom, flexibility and less of the hard work that needed to be done only 50 years ago. Its called modernization. And just a small reminder Mr. Trump, the internet was invented by the US. Government. The US Department of Defense awarded contracts as early as the 1960s for packet network systems, including the development of the ARPANET.” [Wikipedia 2017]

Bringing back the borders Mr. Trump in all your patriotism might a need to feed the fear of the unknown, or be a cheap excuse for our inability to deal with the other or the unknown. But not taking on the global responsibility and global connection can be a fatal error. If you so confident, why don’t you take on the challenge of the idea from Thomas Paine who said: My country is the world.

And remember that the The Civil Rights Act was written in America in 1964: No person in the United States shall on grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Your saying about “Bringing back wealth” Mr. Trump that made me smile and sad at the same time. Because this saying comes from one of the richest people in the world, from someone who probably never experienced the feeling of being poor ever in his life. Celebrated by thousands and millions of Americans who have never been to countries like India, Africa or any other third world country to experience what true poverty really is. How funny that we all think that we should strive for wealth and at the end of the day it is exactly that something that doesn’t fill our hearts, nourishes our souls or we could take with us once it is time to leave this earth plane. And we still don’t realize how wealthy we already are.

It is just that endless chase after another illusion that was planted in our minds, trying to overcome life instead of understanding it.

Then I remember reading about The Marshall Plan which was written in America too and money didn’t seem to be an object: “Considered by some to be the noblest undertaking in American history, and by others to be a waste of the $12,000,000,000 that was eventually spent on the plan, the European recovery program had three objectives. George Marshall, Secretary of State under President Harry Truman, designed the program to promote European production, bolster European currency, and facilitate trade after the devastating effects of World War II. The purpose was to help Europe recover as a healthy trading partner and ally, and to repel the Communist threat from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.”

America has been the first country who managed a moon landing, invented the cell phone, the machine guns, the trans-ocean cable communication, the first modern submarine and the first nuclear reactor what else do you want?

Can you not allow other countries to have a go? To make some inventions? To contribute to human history in progress and transformation? Can others not have their share as well?

Even in 1865 America showed it progress in terms of getting things right again by setting up the Thirteenth Amendment. “It did accomplish important steps, however. Twenty thousand slaves were freed immediately, and many more rushed to join the union advance into the South. Moreover, the proclamation won approval in France and Great Britain, effectively ending the Confederate States’ hope for recognition by those countries. Ultimately, more than 4,000,000 slaves were freed.” (

So America I am asking you now, what is wrong with you? Why do you allow a false Messiah to tell you that anything has to be won, to be taken back or to be accomplished? If there is only one thing that really needs doing, that is everyone of any President Voters should put their hands on their hearts. Feel that? That is what you should vote for….remember what you have already accomplished and how you can be of a greater accomplishment for the whole world when you finally realize you heading in the wrong direction.

You don’t need a Messiah, you don’t need to be rescued. All you need is to wake up from the American dream. And come into the present moment which says –

The purpose of life is not to be happy.

It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • written by Julie Jurgan

(featured image –

Suma – A story of growing a business organically (watch)

A lovely talk about a great business idea. A working co-operative in which everyone earns the same amount of money no matter what work they do. Organically grown food been delivered into all parts of the world to provide a fairtrade and organice choice for our well-being. Great story about the future model of living and working organically. Definetly worth watching.

A Brief History

Suma was started in 1975 by Reg Tayler. Reg had already gained some experience of wholefoods in London, and when he moved to Leeds he opened a retail shop, Plain Grain. In August 1975, at a meeting attended by all the wholefood shops in the north of England*, he proposed they set up a wholefoods wholesaling co-operative in order to supply each other.

Reg and friends set up in the back kitchen of a house in Victoria Road, Leeds, from where they sold cereal flakes, dried fruits and brown rice. They soon needed more room, and so rented a lock-up garage nearby – this is where the name ‘Suma’ was first used for the growing business. At the time, Reg was working as a delivery driver for Jonathan Silver, taking clothes to his chain of menswear shops around the north of England. Reg delivered the wholefood orders in between the ‘official’ deliveries for his boss, who knew what was going on but turned a blind eye even so. (Jonathan Silver later sold up and went travelling. After he returned to England he bought Dean Clough Mills in Halifax in 1982, in partnership with Ernest Hall. Ernest bought him out in 1984, when Jonathan Silver went on to buy Salts Mill in Saltaire, now a major tourist attraction in the area).

Within a year they needed proper premises, and in 1976 acquired a tiny two-storey warehouse in Wharf Street, Leeds. Lots of stairs had made the warehouse unsuitable for storing food, and there’s even one particular story of a time when several tonnes of fruit were carried upstairs, resulting in a horrible creaking noise as the ceiling started to collapse! Luckily the day was saved thanks to a little ingenuity and several large pieces of wood used as makeshift ‘props’. A retail shop called Beano was established round the corner and soon became an independent cooperative, separate from the wholesaling side of the enterprise. In 1977, Reg sold the Suma business to the then seven employees, who became the founder members of Triangle Wholefoods Collective, trading as Suma.

In 1978 Suma moved into a much larger three-storey warehouse across the road at 46 The Calls, Leeds. It seemed huge – the entire stock fitted into one half of the ground floor. However, rapid expansion of the wholefood market meant that by 1986 the whole place was bursting at the seams and Suma moved to a 70,000 sq. ft. warehouse shed in Dean Clough Mills, Halifax. There followed 15 years of steady growth, both of turnover and of the cooperative. Alongside the growth in size there was a corresponding increase in the complexity and sophistication of the business, and the structure of the coop went through many modifications to manage this change. In 2001, Suma moved to purpose-built premises in Elland, where currently around 150 are employed.

* 8th Day, Manchester; Alligator, York; Single Step, Lancaster; Maggie’s Farm, Durham; Down to Earth, Sheffield

( source-


Organic Food doesn’t need to be expensive (watch)

Suma is the UK’s largest independent wholefood wholesaler/distributor, specialising in vegetarian, fairly traded, organic, ethical and natural products. We are a workers’ co-operative committed to ethical business.

This is an interesting video with some inspiration what we all could do together. Ordering with Suma does and will make a difference not only to our personal lives but also to the workers who grow and harvest the products we eat. Go organic. Go Suma.

Lovely video from a lady who buys at Suma wholefood together with all her friends. Organic wholefood doesnt need to be expensive.

Suma is the UK’s largest independent wholefood wholesaler/distributor, specialising in vegetarian, fairly traded, organic, ethical and natural products. We are a workers’ co-operative committed to ethical business.

Workers co-operative

Unlike most UK companies, Suma operates a thoroughly democratic system of management that isn’t bound by the conventional notions of hierarchy. As a workers’ co-operative the business is jointly owned and managed by all of us. Everyone is paid the same and we collectively do all the jobs that need doing, whatever they happen to be.
For more information about co-operatives visit

Buying Ethics

All our products are diligently sourced; all are vegetarian and where eggs are an ingredient, they are free-range. We stock organic versions of everything we can, support fair-trade as a licensee of the Fairtrade Foundation and all our bodycare, cosmetic and household products are cruelty-free.


We are one of the few businesses in the UK that sell only vegetarian produce. You can be assured that all of our products are 100% vegetarian from our sweets to our tooth-brushes. That means no meat, no fish and no animal derived nasties like gelatin or rennet. We are also a member of the Vegetarian Society, who aide us in promoting a healthy, vegetarian lifestyle.


As a distribution business we’re acutely aware of the impact that business has on the environment at local and global levels and continually strive to keep it to a minimum.

We’ve been using 100% renewable electricity for ages and even then our motion sensors switch the lights off when we leave the room. Our reps share a hybrid car. We take back plastic and cardboard packaging from our customers and what we can’t re-use, we recycle. Food waste is composted. We plant enough trees with Treesponsibility to get carbon neutral status and have an appointed carbon champion keeping a constant eye on our footprint. And we have vehicle tracking which means we make every delivery mile count.


At Suma we have always acknowledged our responsibility to the people who grow the food, which is why we are a licensee of the Fairtrade Foundation. Our commitment to fair trade is not a marketing device, it is one based on a deeply held belief in a universal right to economic justice, self-empowerment and freedom from exploitation.

( featured image –

Ratan Tata – Make a difference (video)

A powerful and inspirational video about – what it means to be wealthy. What does it mean to be rich? Is there a responsibility we have towards society?  What can each and everyone of us do to make a global change happen? What if we feel that this change will never happen? But also about our global responsibility.

Empowering. Profound. True.

Ratan Naval Tata GBE (born 28 December 1937) is an Indian businessman, investor, philanthropist and chairman emeritus of Tata Sons. He was the chairman of Tata Group, a Mumbai-based global business conglomerate from 1991 till 2012, and continues to head its charitable trusts.[2][3] Among awards, he is the recipient of two of the highest civilian awards of India–Padma Vibhushan(2008) and Padma Bhushan (2000).[4] He is an alumnus of The Cathedral & John Connon School, Cornell University & Harvard Business School.

Early life

Ratan Tata is the son of Naval Tata, who had been adopted from J. N. Petit Parsi Orphanage by Navajbai Tata. His parents Naval and Sonoo separated in the mid-1940s when he was ten and his younger brother, Jimmy, was seven years old. Both he and his brother were raised by their grandmother Navajbai Tata.[5] He has a half-brother Noel Tata from Naval Tata’s second marriage toSimone Tata. He schooled in Mumbai, at the Cathedral and John Connon School.[6] He received a B.S. degree in architecture with structural engineering from Cornell University in 1962, and the Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School in 1975.[7]


Tata began his career in the Tata group in 1961. He started on the shop floor of Tata Steel, shovelling limestone and handling the blast furnace.[8] He could not turn around group companies, NELCO and Empress Mills, which he was given charge of in the 70s.[9][10] In 1991, J. R. D. Tata stepped down as chairman of Tata Sons, naming him his successor. When he settled down into the new role, he faced stiff resistance from many company heads some of who had spent decades in their respective companies and rose to become very powerful and influential due to the freedom to operate under JRD Tata. He began replacing them by setting a retirement age, and then made individual companies report operationally to the group office and made each contribute some of their profit to build and use the Tata group brand. Innovation was given priority and younger talent was infused and given responsibilities.[11] Under his stewardship, overlapping operations in group companies were streamlined into a synergised whole,[12] with the salt-to-software group exiting unrelated businesses to take on the onslaught of globalisation.

During the 21 years he led the Tata Group, revenues grew over 40 times, and profit, over 50 times.[9] Where sales of the group as a whole, overwhelmingly came from commodities when he took over, the majority sales came from brands when he exited.[13][14] He boldly got Tata Tea to acquire Tetley, Tata Motors to acquire Jaguar Land Roverand Tata Steel to acquired Corus. All this turned Tata from a largely India-centric group into a global business, with over 65% revenues coming from operations and sales in over 100 countries.[9][15] He conceptualised the Tata Nano car.[11] As he explained in a recent interview for the Harvard Business School‘s Creating Emerging Markets project, the development of the Tata Nano was significant because it helped put cars at a price-point within reach of the average Indian consumer.[16]

Ratan Tata relinquished all executive power in the Tata group on 28 December 2012, on turning 75, appointing as his successor, Cyrus Mistry, the 44-year-old son of Pallonji Mistry of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the largest individual shareholder of the group and related by marriage.[17][18]

Recently, he invested his personal savings in Snapdeal- one of India’s leading e-commerce website and in Jan 2016 made an undisclosed funding in Teabox — an online store selling premium Indian Tea [19] and[20] — an online discount coupons and cashback website. Ratan Tata has been making small investments in both early and late stage companies in India. He has made INR 0.95 Cr in Ola Cabs[21] and INR 1 Cr in Paytm.[22] In April 2015, it was reported that Tata had acquired a stake in Chinese smartphone startup Xiaomi, with specific terms undisclosed.[23] In Jan 2016, it was reported that Ratan Tata invested in an online Pet care portal called Dogspot[24][25][26]

Board memberships and affiliations

He is the Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons. He continues to head the main two Tata trusts Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust and their allied Trusts, with a combined stake of 66% in Tata Sons, Tata group’s holding company.

He has served in various capacities in organisations in India and abroad. He is a member of the ‘Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry’ and the ‘National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council’. He is on the jury panel of Pritzker Architecture Prize[27] – considered to be one of the world’s premier architecture prizes.

He is a director on the boards of Alcoa Inc., Mondelez International[28] and Board of Governors of the East-West Center. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of University of Southern California, Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors, X Prize[29] and Cornell University.

He is a member on the board of International Advisory Council at Bocconi University[30]

He is also a member of the Harvard Business School India Advisory Board (IAB) since 2006 and previously a member of the Harvard Business School Asia-Pacific Advisory Board (APAB) 2001-2006.

In February 2015, Ratan took an advisory role at Kalari Capital.

Recently, Ratan Tata has also invested an undisclosed amount in Nestaway in Feb2016 [31] ( source – wikipedia 2016)

( featured images –

The art behind sustainable business model innovation – Cilia Holmes Indahl (video)

What is a sustainable business and how does this approach affect us today? Should a business focus more on sustainability? What if we change to more sustainability in our business and how does that help to safe the world?

  • video made by Cilia Holmes Indahl

Sustainable business, or green business, is an enterprise that has minimal negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy—a businessthat strives to meet the triple bottom line. Often, sustainable businesses have progressive environmental and human rights policies. In general, business is described as green if it matches the following four criteria:[1]

  1. It incorporates principles of sustainability into each of its business decisions.
  2. It supplies environmentally friendly products or services that replaces demand for nongreen products and/or services.
  3. It is greener than traditional competition.
  4. It has made an enduring commitment to environmental principles in its business operations.

A sustainable business is any organization that participates in environmentally friendly or green activities to ensure that all processes, products, and manufacturing activities adequately address current environmental concerns while maintaining a profit. In other words, it is a business that “meets the needs of the present world without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.”[2][3] It is the process of assessing how to design products that will take advantage of the current environmental situation and how well a company’s products perform with renewable resources.[4]

The Brundtland Report emphasized that sustainability is a three-legged stool of people, planet, and profit.[2] Sustainable businesses with the supply chain try to balance all three through the triple-bottom-line concept—using sustainable development and sustainable distribution to affect the environment, business growth, and the society.[5][6]

Everyone affects the sustainability of the marketplace and the planet in some way. Sustainable development within a business can create value for customers, investors, and the environment. A sustainable business must meet customer needs while, at the same time, treating the environment well.[7] In order to be successful in such an approach, where stakeholder balancing and joint solutions is key, a structural approach is needed. One philosophy, that include many different tools and methods, is the concept of Sustainable Enterprise Excellence.[8]

Sustainability is often confused with corporate social responsibility (CSR), though the two are not the same. Bansal and DesJardine (2014) state that the notion of ‘time’ discriminates sustainability from CSR and other similar concepts. Whereas ethics, morality, and norms permeate CSR, sustainability only obliges businesses to make intertemporal trade-offs to safeguard intergenerational equity. Short-termism is the bane of sustainability.[9]

Green business has been seen as a possible mediator of economic-environmental relations, and if proliferated, would serve to diversify our economy, even if it has a negligible effect at lowering atmospheric CO2 levels. The definition of “green jobs” is ambiguous, but it is generally agreed that these jobs, the result of green business, should be linked to clean energy, and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases. These corporations can be seen as generators of not only “green energy”, but as producers of new “materialities” that are the product of the technologies these firms developed and deployed.[10]

Environmental sphere

A major initiative of sustainable businesses is to eliminate or decrease the environmental harm caused by the production and consumption of their goods.[11] The impact of such human activities in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced can be measured in units of carbon dioxide and is referred to as the carbon footprint. The carbon footprint concept is derived from ecological footprint analysis, which examines the ecological capacity required to support the consumption of products.[12]

Businesses take a wide range of green initiatives. One of the most common examples is the act of “going paperless” or sending electronic correspondence in lieu of paper when possible.[7] On a higher level, examples of sustainable business practices include: refurbishing used products (e.g., tuning up lightly used commercial fitness equipment for resale); revising production processes in order to eliminate waste (such as using a more accurate template to cut out designs); and choosing nontoxic raw materials and processes. For example, Canadian farmers have found that hemp is a sustainable alternative to rapeseed in their traditional crop rotation; hemp grown for fiber or seed requires no pesticides or herbicides.

Sustainable business leaders also take into account the life cycle costs for the items they produce. Input costs must be considered in regards to regulations, energy use, storage, and disposal.[13] Designing for the environment (DFE) is also an element of sustainable business. This process enables users to consider the potential environmental impacts of a product and the process used to make that product.[13]

The many possibilities for adopting green practices have led to considerable pressure being put upon companies from consumers, employees, government regulators and other stakeholders.[14] Some companies have resorted to greenwashing instead of making meaningful changes, merely marketing their products in ways that suggest green practices. For example, various producers in the bamboo fiber industry have been taken to court for advertising their products as more “green” than they are.[15] Still, countless other companies have taken the sustainability trend seriously and are enjoying profits. In their book “Corporate Sustainability in International Comparison”, Schaltegger et al. (2014) analyse the current state of corporate sustainability management and corporate social responsibility across eleven countries. Their research is based on an extensive survey focusing on the companies’ intention to pursue sustainability management (i.e. motivation; issues), the integration of sustainability in the organisation (i.e. connecting sustainability to the core business; involving corporate functions; using drivers of business cases for sustainability) and the actual implementation of sustainability management measures (i.e. stakeholder management; sustainability management tools and standards; measurements). [16] The Gort Cloud written by Richard Seireeni, (2009), documents the experiences of sustainable businesses in America and their reliance on the vast but invisible green community, referred to as the gort cloud, for support and a market.

Green investment firms are consequently attracting unprecedented interest. In the UK, for instance, the Green Investment Bank is devoted exclusively to supporting renewable domestic energy. However, the UK and Europe as a whole are falling behind the impressive pace set by developing nations in terms of green development.[17] Thus, green investment firms are creating more and more opportunities to support sustainable development practices in emerging economies. By providing micro-loans and larger investments, these firms assist small business owners in developing nations who seek business education, affordable loans, and new distribution networks for their “green” products.

Sustainable Businesses

Among large corporations, Ford Motor Company occupies an odd role in the story of sustainability. Ironically, founder Henry Ford was a pioneer in the sustainable business realm, experimenting with plant-based fuels during the days of the Model T.[7] Ford Motor Company also shipped the Model A truck in crates that then became the vehicle floorboards at the factory destination. This was a form of upcycling, retaining high quality in a closed-loop industrial cycle.[13] Furthermore, the original auto body was made of a stronger-than-steel hemp composite. Today, of course, Fords aren’t made of hemp nor do they run on the most sensible fuel. Currently, Ford’s claim to eco-friendly fame is the use of seat fabric made from 100% post-industrial materials and renewable soy foam seat bases. Ford executives recently appointed the company’s first senior vice president of sustainability, environment, and safety engineering. This position is responsible for establishing a long-range sustainability strategy and environmental policy. The person in this position will also help develop the products and processes necessary to satisfy both customers and society as a whole while working toward energy independence. It remains to be seen whether Ford will return to its founder’s vision of a petroleum-free automobile, a vehicle powered by the remains of plant matter.[4]

The automobile manufacturer Subaru is a sustainability giant. In 2008 a Subaru assembly plant in Lafayette became the first auto manufacturer to achieve zero land fill status when the plant implemented sustainable policies. The company successfully managed to implement a plan that increased refuse recycling to 99.8%.[18] In 2012, the corporation increased the reuse of Styrofoam by 9%. And from the year 2008 to the year 2012, environmental incidents and accidents reduced from 18 to 4.[19]

Smaller companies such as Nature’s Path, an organic cereal and snack making business, have also made significant sustainability gains in the 21st century. CEO Arran Stephensand his associates have ensured that the quickly growing company’s products are produced without toxic farm chemicals. Furthermore, employees are constantly encouraged to find ways to reduce consumption. Sustainability is an essential part of corporate discussions.[20] Another example comes from Salt Spring Coffee, a company created in 1996 as a certified organic, fair trade, coffee producer.[21] In recent years they have become carbon neutral, lowering emissions by reducing long-range trucking and using bio-diesel in delivery trucks,[22] upgrading to energy efficient equipment and purchasing carbon offsets. The company claims to offer the first carbon neutral coffee sold in Canada.[23] Salt Spring Coffee was recognized by the David Suzuki Foundation in the 2010 report Doing Business in a New Climate.[24] A third example comes from Korea, where rice husks are used as a nontoxic packaging for stereo components and other electronics. The same material is later recycled to make bricks.[13]

The mining and specifically gold mining industries are also moving to be more sustainable, especially given that the industry is one of the most destructive in environmental terms in the world.[25] Indeed, regarding gold mining, Northwestern University scientists have, in the laboratory, discovered an inexpensive and environmentally sustainable method that uses simple cornstarch — instead of cyanide — to isolate gold from raw materials in a selective manner.[26] Such a method will reduce the amount of cyanide released into the environment during gold extraction from raw ore, with one of the Northwestern University scientists, Sir Fraser Stoddart stating that: “The elimination of cyanide from the gold industry is of the utmost importance environmentally”.[27] Additionally, the retail jewelry industry is now making attempts to be totally sustainable, with companies using green energy providers and recycling more,[28] as well as preventing the use of mined-so called ‘virgin gold’ from being used by applying re-finishing methods on pieces and re-selling them.[29] Furthermore, the customer may opt for Fairtrade Gold[30] which gives a better deal to small scale and artisanal miners and is an element of sustainable business.[31]However, not all think that mining can be sustainable and much more needs to be done, noting that mining in general is in need of greater regional and international legislation and regulation, which is a valid point given the huge impact mining has on the planet and the huge number of products and goods that are made wholly or partly from minedmaterials.[32]

Social sphere

Organizations that give back to the community, whether through employees volunteering their time or through charitable donations are often considered to be socially sustainable. Organizations also can encourage education in their communities by training their employees and offering internships to younger members of the community. Practices such as these increase the education level and quality of life in the community.

In order for a business to be truly sustainable, it must sustain not only the necessary environmental resources, but also its social resources, including employees, customers (the community), and its reputation.[33]


The European community’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive restricts the use of certain hazardous materials in the production of various electronic and electrical products. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directives provide collection, recycling, and recovery practices for electrical goods.[7] The World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute are two organizations working together to set a standard for reporting on corporate carbon footprints.[7] From October 2013, all quoted companies in the UK are legally required to report their annual greenhouse gas emissions in their directors’ report, under the Companies Act 2006(Strategic and Directors’ Reports) Regulations 2013.[34][35]

Lester Brown’s Plan B 2.0 and Hunter Lovins’s Natural Capitalism provide information on sustainability initiatives.[36]

Corporate sustainability strategies

Corporate sustainability strategies can aim to take advantage of sustainable revenue opportunities, while protecting the value of business against increasing energy costs, the costs of meeting regulatory requirements, changes in the way customers perceive brands and products, and the volatile price of resources.

Not all eco-strategies can be incorporated into a company’s Eco-portfolio immediately. The widely practiced strategies include: Innovation, Collaboration, Process Improvement and Sustainability reporting.

  • 1. Innovation & Technology

This introverted method of sustainable corporate practices focuses on a company’s ability to change its products and services towards less waste production and sustainable best practices.

  • 2. Collaboration

The formation of networks with similar or partner companies facilitates knowledge sharing and propels innovation.

  • 3. Process Improvement

Continuous process surveying and improvement is essential to reduction in waste. Employee awareness of company-wide sustainability plan further aids the integration of new and improved processes.

  • 4. Sustainability Reporting

Periodic reporting of company performance in relation to goals. These goals are often incorporated in to the corporate mission (as in the case of Ford Motor Co.).[37]

  • 5. Greening the Supply Chain

Sustainable procurement is important for any sustainability strategy as a company’s impact on the environment is much bigger than the products that they consume. The B Corporation (certification) model is a good example of one that encourages companies to focus on this.

Additionally, companies might consider implementing a sound measurement and management system with readjustment procedures, as well as a regular forum for all stakeholders to discuss sustainablity issues.[38] The Sustainability Balanced Scorecard is a performance measurement and management system aiming at balancing financial and non-financial as well as short and long-term measures. It explicitly integrates strategically relevant environmental, social and ethical goals into the overall performance management system [39] and supports strategic sustainability management.


Enormous economic and population growth worldwide in the second half of the twentieth century aggravated the factors that threaten health and the world — ozone depletion, climate change, depletion, fouling of natural resources, and extensive loss of biodiversity and habitat. In the past, the standard approaches to environmental problems generated by business and industry have been regulatory-driven “end-of-the-pipe” remediation efforts. In the 1990s, efforts by governments, NGOs, corporations, and investors began to grow substantially to develop awareness and plans for investment in business sustainability.

One critical milestone was the establishment of the ISO 14000 standards whose development came as a result of the Rio Summit on the Environment held in 1992. ISO 14001 is the cornerstone standard of the ISO 14000 series. It specifies a framework of control for an Environmental Management System against which an organization can be certified by a third party. Other ISO 14000 Series Standards are actually guidelines, many to help you achieve registration to ISO 14001. They include the following:

  • ISO 14004 provides guidance on the development and implementation of environmental management systems
  • ISO 14010 provides general principles of environmental auditing (now superseded by ISO 19011)
  • ISO 14011 provides specific guidance on audit an environmental management system (now superseded by ISO 19011)
  • ISO 14012 provides guidance on qualification criteria for environmental auditors and lead auditors (now superseded by ISO 19011)
  • ISO 14013/5 provides audit program review and assessment material.
  • ISO 14020+ labeling issues
  • ISO 14030+ provides guidance on performance targets and monitoring within an Environmental Management System
  • ISO 14040+ covers life cycle issues

LEED certification

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards were developed by the US Green Building Council in an effort to propel green building design in the United States. LEED certification is very prestigious title and can be attained through “compliance with all environmental laws and regulations, occupancy scenarios, building permanence and pre-rating completion, site boundaries and area-to-site ratios, and obligatory five-year sharing of whole building energy and water use data from the start of occupancy (for new construction) or date of certification (for existing buildings)”.[15].[40]

Six essential characteristics

Matthew Tueth, Ph.D. reiterates the ideas put forward by authors such as Paul Hawken (The Ecology of Commerce and Natural Capitalism), Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart (Cradle to Cradle), and Janine Benyus (Biomimicry) when he proposes that a mature and authentic sustainable business contains six essential characteristics.

1. Triple top-line value production

“The TTL Establishes three simultaneous requirements of sustainable business activities – financial benefits for the company, natural world betterment, and social advantages for employees and members of the local community—with each of these three components recognized as equal in status.” Whereas many businesses use the triple bottom line, “triple top line” stresses the importance of initial design and is a term attributable to McDonough and Braungart in their book Cradle to Cradle.

2. Nature-based knowledge and technology

“This biomimicry-based principal [sic] involves the conscious emulation of natural-world genius in terms of growing our food, harnessing our energy, constructing things, conducting business healing ourselves, processing information and designing our communities”

3. Products of service to products of consumption

Products of service are durable goods routinely leased by the customer that are made of technical materials and are returned to the manufacturer and re-processed into a new generation of products when they are worn out.(These products are mostly non-toxic to human and environmental health but toxic materials that are used will be kept within a closed loop type system and not be able to escape into the environment). Products of consumption are shorter lived items made only of biodegradable materials. They are broken down by the detritus organisms after the products lose their usefulness.(These are also non-hazardous to human or environmental health). This principal requires that we manufacture only these two types of products and necessitates the gradual but continual reductions of products of service and their replacement with products of consumption as technological advancements allow.”

4. Solar, wind, geothermal and ocean energy.

“This principal[sic] advocates employing only sustainable energy technology—solar, wind, ocean and geothermal—that can meet our energy needs indefinitely without negative effects for life on earth.” Other authors, such as Paul Hawken, have referred to this as utilizing current solar income.

5. Local-based organizations and economies

“This ingredient includes durable, beautiful and healthy communities with locally owned and operated businesses and locally managed non-profit organizations, along with regional corporations and shareholders working together in a dense web of partnerships and collaborations.”

6. Continuous improvement process

“Operational processes inside successful organizations include provisions for constant advancements and upgrade as the company does its business. The continuous process of monitoring, analyzing, redesigning and implementing is used to intensify TTL value production as conditions change and new opportunities emerge.”[41]

Challenges and opportunities

Implementing sustainable business practices may have an effect on profits and a firm’s financial ‘bottom line’. At first blush, this challenge might make many corporate executives cringe. However, during a time where environmental awareness is popular, green strategies are likely to be embraced by employees, consumers, and other stakeholders. In fact, according to many studies, a positive correlation exists between environmental performance and economic performance.[42]

If an organisation’s current business model is inherently unsustainable, becoming a truly sustainable business requires a complete makeover of the business model (e.g. from selling cars to offering car sharing and other mobility services). This can present a major challenge due to the differences between the old and the new model and the respective skills, resources and infrastructure needed. A new business model can also offer major opportunities by entering or even creating new markets and reaching new customer groups. [43]

Companies leading the way in sustainable business practices can be said to be taking advantage of sustainable revenue opportunities: according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills the UK green economy to grow by 4.9 to 5.5 percent a year by 2015,[44] and the average internal rate of return on energy efficiency investments for large businesses is 48%.[45] A 2013 survey suggests that demand for green products appears to be increasing: 27% of respondents said they are more likely to buy a sustainable product and/or service than 5 years ago.[46] Furthermore, sustainable business practices may attract talent and generate tax breaks.[47]( Source – Wikipedia 2016)

(featured image –