The environmental revolution and “going green” get talked about a lot, but what do these phrases really mean? Honest and sincere companies that embrace sustainability in side and out want to avoid greenwashing, or faking an environmental consciousness and commitment. Understanding and executing smart for business and the earth can be a challenge. We’ve spotlighting four books that do a good job of addressing how businesses can employ genuine change for the good of the environment — and profit from it.
Capitalism at the Crossroads is a practical guide to changing your business. Drawing on his experience consulting with top companies and NGOs worldwide, Hart shows how to craft your optimal sustainability strategy and overcome the limitations of traditional “greening” approaches. He presents case studies from the United States and around the world, demonstrating what’s working and what isn’t. He also guides business leaders in building an organizational “infrastructure for sustainability”–one that can survive budgeting and boardrooms, recharging innovation and growth throughout your enterprise.
In Cradle to Cradle, the authors present a manifesto calling for a new industrial revolution, one that would render both traditional manufacturing and traditional environmentalism obsolete. Recycling, for instance, is actually “downcycling,” creating hybrids of biological and technical “nutrients” which are then unrecoverable and unusable. The authors, an architect and a chemist, want to eliminate the concept of waste altogether, while preserving commerce and allowing for human nature. They offer several compelling examples of corporations that are not just doing less harm–they’re actually doing good for the environment and their neighborhoods, and making more money in the process. Cradle to Cradle is a refreshing change from the intractable environmental conflicts that dominate headlines. It’s a handbook for 21st-century innovation and should be required reading for business hotshots and environmental activists.
Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the astonishing expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a planet that is “hot, flat, and crowded.” Our resources are being strained to the limit, and changes must be made, primarily to our methods for creating and consuming energy. Making these changes will be a great challenge, Friedman explains, but also a great opportunity, and one that America cannot afford to miss. Hot, Flat, and Crowded provides the theoretical basis for American capitalism to save the world — and itself.
In Natural Capitalism, three top strategists show how leading-edge companies are practicing “a new type of industrialism” that is more efficient and profitable while saving the environment and creating jobs. Paul Hawken and Amory and Hunter Lovins write that in the next century, cars will get 200 miles per gallon without compromising safety and power, manufacturers will relentlessly recycle their products, and the world’s standard of living will jump without further damaging natural resources. “Is this the vision of a utopia? In fact, the changes described here could come about in the decades to come as the result of economic and technological trends already in place,” the authors write.
Have you read a good eco-book recently? Please share with a comment here or in our Linkedin Green Lab group.