What comes to mind when you hear the word sustainable? Many of us think of sustainability as something ‘nice’ to strive for, but to aggressively pursue it as a core tenet of one’s business model is still outside the norm.
Yet slowly, that’s changing. As one case in point, nearly a thousand businesses across the country have become certified B Corporations, demonstrating their commitment to a triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit.
At last week’s OEN PubTalk, we invited three companies that are not just looking to be sustainable themselves, but to inspire industry-wide change in the process.
Moderator Bill Campbell of Equilibrium Capital Group, asked a number of thought-provoking questions throughout the discussion. We caught up with panelists Justin Yuen from FMYI, which offers online collaboration tools; Franklin Jones from B-line Sustainable Urban Delivery, which delivers goods to businesses by bicycle; and Brad Swift from Portland Bee Balm, which manufactures lip balm, to focus on two in particular:
1) How does your commitment to sustainability set you apart from your competitors, and 2) If your entire industry became sustainable, what would that look like?
Here’s what they had to say:
Justin Yuen, FMYI:
“The fact that we’re a certified B Corporation is unique within the collaboration software industry. Many do not adhere to standards when it comes to their corporate responsibility practices, build in sustainability-related features into their platform, or specifically build solutions for social and environmental related initiatives.
From our 2020 vision, if our entire industry became sustainable, here’s what it would look like for all of us:
- Zero impact operations: Net zero servers, net zero office footprint, net zero commuting, 100% renewable energy, net zero waste.
- Zero impact features: Crowdsource and tools for sustainable solutions to help achieve zero impact.
- Zero impact community: Empower our stakeholders to be change agents to achieve zero impact in their community.”
B-corp kind of sounds like a cult… And it is, but it also describes what it means to be sustainable.” (See more quotes from Justin.)
“B-line’s focus on sustainability and community impact drives our business model and as such, immediately differentiates us from other inner-city freight and logistics companies. Our choice to utilize electric freight tricycles could be seen as limiting, but I believe it forces us to set a model of hyper-efficient ‘last-mile’ logistics that can have an immediate and lasting positive impact on our community while also being competitive in the market.
If our entire industry became sustainable, it would be drastically different! Congestion pricing, off-hour and or ‘silent’ deliveries, loading zones dedicated to ‘green’ vehicles, consolidation centers, and wide array of vehicle types and technology would be in play. At some point in the near future, we will need to address how (or perhaps ‘if’) we can meet the growing demand for convenience deliveries while also improving our communities’ overarching livability.”
For us, the question is: How do we reduce our carbon footprint while meeting market demand at the right price point?” (See more quotes from Franklin.)
“There are many other sustainable body care companies out there doing great things. I think we excel in keeping the message to our customers tightly focused and communicating it more effectively than our competitors.
If our entire industry became sustainable, the biggest change would probably be in the ingredients used in body care products. Sourcing, safe high quality, ethically produced ingredients would create the most significant change.”
Growing our company has everything to do with communicating its sustainable message.” (See more quotes from Brad.)