It seems that every time you pick up a business magazine today there is an article about sustainable business. But what do we mean by "sustainable business"? My broad definition is simply a business that operates in an environmentally responsible way, minimizing its impact on the environment. In the label converting business we are only beginning to take on the challenge of sustainability. This column will review several blogs that will hopefully stimulate your interest in this important topic.
Sustainable is Good (http://www.sustainableisgood.com/)
This blog is the only one I found that is really devoted to sustainable packaging, the area of sustainable business that is probably of primary interest to most converters. This blog "covers green innovations and trends in products and packaging design". It was created by Rider (he gives only his first name) and he seems to really know this topic, although he doesn't claim to be directly involved in the packaging industry.
Rider takes what he calls a "full circle approach" to sustainable packaging - looking at the product, the packaging and how it is marketed to consumers. Recent posts have detailed the launch of Amcor's NaturePlus compostable bag in the UK, new coffee bags made from PLA, and sustainable security packaging for video games and DVDs. If you want to read about some great examples of sustainable packaging then you should subscribe to this blog.
Two Steps Forward (http://makower.typepad.com/)
The Associated Press has called Joel Makower (this blog's author) the "guru of green business practices" and he has been talking about and teaching sustainable business practices well before it became popular. Joel provides a "balanced, realistic and credible approach to sustainable business". He realizes the challenges facing mainstream companies and he tries to address environmental issues in a way that helps drive bottom line performance.
His popular blog tackles a variety of topics in a balanced way. There is a focus on business practices, in particular those of big business, as well as clean technology and green marketing. Recent posts included a discussion of Coca-Cola's new sustainable business pledge, "to recycle or reuse all the plastic bottles it uses in the US market"; Google's $10 million investment in electric vehicle technology, and the complexities of building green.
It Grows on Trees (http://itgrowsontrees.typepad.com/)
The focus of this blog is green advertising and marketing, as it says it is about "communicating green in a noisy marketplace". The author, G.B. Veerman, is the owner of a brand studio called Astronaut that specializes in communications for clean tech products and companies in renewable energy.
This blog deals with a number of green marketing issues, in particular, the issue of "greenwashing". This new term refers to companies jumping on the green bandwagon even though they are not really using sustainable business practices. This blog will call companies on this. It also discusses individual advertising campaigns with commentary on their effectiveness.
Sustainablog is dedicated to news and information about environmental and economic sustainability, green and sustainable business and environmental politics. It is authored by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg who is a senior editor at www.greenoptions.com, a portal dedicated to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Jeff focuses on the success stories of sustainable business. Recent posts have discussed Missouri's first wind farm, the launch of a new green cleaning service Herb'n Maid, and the planned conversion of waste in landfills to energy in Michigan. There are so many failures to focus on in the world of sustainable business that it is refreshing to read a blog with a more positive spin.
The Triple Bottom Line (http://getsustainable.net/blogfiles/blog.html)
Last year, the book The Triple Bottom Line was published, and this blog is a continuation of the discussion generated by the book. The triple bottom line is people, planet and profits, or as the book says "a new way to measure the bottom line - where profits go side-by-side with environmental and social performance." The blog is authored by the same people who wrote the book, Andy Savitz and Karl Weber, as well as Melissa Tritter.
This blog definitely has a big business focus, I think because this is where the biggest impact of the triple bottom line is seen. Recent posts have discussed the new and unusual trend of big business looking to the government for regulation; the integration of sustainability into a corporate culture, and the sustainable practices of the world's largest water company.
There are my five favorite blogs on sustainable business. But there are literally hundreds of other blogs out there on this topic as well as plenty of other resources, so I encourage you to explore this topic. Sustainable business practices are only going to become more important, so those of us who learn and embrace these practices now are going to have an advantage going forward.