I was just going about my normal business, or busy-ness, and I realized that within a three-day span, I had read the same phrase three times in different contexts. I don’t know about you, but I always see this as a sign to stop what I’m doing and take notice.
The phrase was “people, planet, profit,” and it was accompanied by the words “triple bottom line.” This message was coming to me in the middle of production for this issue of the magazine, which has a theme of technology, and I thought that was very fitting. Who hasn’t bought a new cell phone, computer, printer, TV or other device and wondered, “Now what do I do with the old one?” We all know tossing it in the trash isn’t an option, for so many reasons.
Our writer Elyssa Coultas answers that question in her article “One Person’s Trash is Another’s Tech.” Here in the United States, we discard more than 2.37 million tons of electronic trash, or e-waste, every year. In this issue, we talk about those who are preventing some of this equipment from going into landfills, including A1 Assets (Page 24) and the City of Orlando (Page 15).
So what about the triple bottom line? British consultant John Elkington, founder of the firm SustainAbility, first coined the phrase in 1994. His premise was that organizations should be measuring their performance in three areas: financial, social and environmental. Only then can they understand the true cost of doing business.
I’ve been thinking about this for some time, and it came into play when I was co-founding a nonprofit 12 years ago with my friend Cindy Chace. We created the organization to help connect women entrepreneurs with larger contracts to expand their businesses and contribute more to the economy. We decided that in addition to helping them grow, we would promote the use of golf as a business tool and show them how to operate their companies with an eye toward sustainability. We named the organization Go for the Greens, and it’s still going strong today.
Over the years, we’ve watched our board member Tim Center, the executive director of Sustainable Florida, take us to new levels in the conversation about sustainability and small businesses. Ten years ago, we were discussing how to consciously use less paper at work by carrying your own coffee cup to Starbucks. Today the conversation has matured to focus on how to make the supply chain greener by ensuring that small businesses observe the same types of best practices as the larger organizations that hire them as vendors.
We’re finally starting to get it as a society. Companies like True Made Foods (Page 42) are practicing the Triple P’s of “people, planet, profit” every day. That’s something that should make us all stop and take notice.