Green to Gold How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy To Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage

The following information was excerpted from the book Green to Gold by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston – Yale University Press written way back in 2006, that’s eight long years ago! It’s interesting to note that it’s all still relevant and maybe, more so today in 2014 than ever.

The good news is that when I look at Facebook, Twitter, etc., both friends and followers I find so many people and companies discussing sustainability, green strategies, becoming eco-friendly, using 100% natural ingredients, the lists and nomenclature continues to grow. Companies are making changes to their business models because as the authors say; The Green Playbook, “if you aren’t running them, your competitors probably are”.

So be an innovator, think outside the box, go out on a limb and all of the other cliches you can think of.

Sesame Street’s Kermit the Frog famously observed, “It’s not easy being green” Whether easy or not, environmental and social pressures are pushing more and more companies to ride the “green wave” to ecological sustainability. In this beautifully organized, crisply written book, Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston, both Yale professors, describe how sustainability can create competitive advantage. They succinctly make the business case for sustainability, and then provide a playbook of green strategies and tactics. The presentation is neither too abstract nor too detailed: It is just right. Nor is their presentation. One-sided: They enumerate many ways sustainable products and strategies can go wrong. While some of their suggestions may seem obvious, the authors deserve praise for collecting so many excellent tips and tricks, and for describing them in memorable (mostly) jargon-free prose. getAbstract highly recommends this smart book to any business leader who wants to move beyond rhetoric to action. While Kermit’s wisdom is doubtless correct, Causes of the “Green Wave” Companies are facing, and will continue to face, two kinds of pressure to go green. The first comes from the physical world and the second comes from your organization’s stakeholders. Nature is an asset. The physical world makes economic life possible. While different businesses use different natural resources – oil companies need oil, frozen fish stick companies need fish – almost all businesses will feel the effects of ten major environmental problems in the short or medium term: climate change, changing energy sources, water quality and quantity, biodiversity, toxic substances and chemicals, air pollution, waste management, ozone depletion, ocean health and deforestation.

Make sure you know which of these issues will affect your business. Traditionally, green process re-engineering focuses on the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Now, consider two more: Redesign and Reimagine. Try “designing for the environment”.

Can you sell your waste to another company for use in its product? Try building or leasing green buildings. There’s a company called Venyooz; whose business model is making it easy to rent a space for an hour or a day.

I recently corresponded with the founder of a website called The New Radar -Douglas Bright whose vision is to connect philanthropists and businesses with the same ideals. On his website he says “I heard an African proverb that changed my way of thinking; “If spiderwebs unite, they are strong enough to tie up a lion.” Taking that proverb to heart, I started to believe that if people (spiders) use our webs (internet, social networks, connections, gifts, talents), we can and will tie up our lions (social issues, environmental issues, health issues, etc.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Attempt to get your supply chain partners to go green with you. Audit your suppliers and buyers, and share best practices. Embed re-engineering and reimagining in your company’s culture with “stretch goals” and big, inspiring environmental bets. Build green thinking into strategic planning. Create incentives for staffers to go green (performance goals, bonuses, awards) and tell compelling stories.

• Both the natural world and public opinion are forcing companies to go green.
• Use environmental sustainability as your competitive advantage.
• Climate change and other environmental problems require businesses to respond.
• Stakeholders on every front are pushing companies to go green.
• Some green initiatives are hedges against downside risk, such as fines or consumer backlash.
• Others provide opportunities for upside gain, like creating innovative new products, or initiating ecologically sound tactics that are also less expensive.
• Like industry leaders, you can use eight simple “green plays” to be environmentally effective and make money.
• Change your attitude and look at your business through a “green lens.”
• Collect data and measure your progress as you ride the “Green Wave.”
• Tell the truth and be transparent. Do not “greenwash – .”Relevance What You Will Learn
In this Abstract, you will learn:
1.) Why sustainability is a new source of competitive advantage;
2.) How to use eight realistic strategies for going green;
3.) What mistakes to avoid in improving your green practices; and
4.) How your company can jumpstart its sustainability program.

Parts of this blog are excepted from the book Green to Gold by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. WinstonYale University Press © 2006© Copyright 2006 getAbstract which can be found in it’s entirety here:


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