Triple Bottom Line: Start by Asking the Right Questions

In recent years, businesses and consumers alike have acknowledged the urgent need for sustainability. As corporations seek the best avenues to improve their environmental stewardship while also maintaining profitability, a handful of promising solutions have emerged. One of the most notable solutions is an economic model called the triple bottom line.

We wrote about the triple bottom line a few weeks ago, describing it as an admirable road map toward corporate sustainability. As we explained in our previous post, companies have historically focused on their own profitability above all else. What the triple bottom line suggests is that businesses can be equally committed to their profit margins, their social responsibility, and their environmental impact. Indeed, the triple bottom line can be summarized as profits, people, and planet.

That may sound promising in theory, but the thought of embracing the triple bottom line at a corporate level can feel a little daunting. Certainly, shifting to this model will involve significant change within a company’s culture, requiring are definition of vision and values, new accountability structures, and more.

So where to begin? One approach we recommend: Start by asking the right questions. Assemble your leadership team or key decision-makers to take inventory, thinking through some of the implications of the triple bottom line model.

Questions About People

To begin with, here are some questions to ask yourself about your company’s social impact.

●      Who are the most vulnerable or underserved groups who are impacted by our company and its policies? How do our decisions impact these groups?

●      Do we have the data needed to truly understand the people groups affected by our business policies and decision-making? If not,what kind of data-gathering tools do we need to assemble?

●      What are some of the opportunities we have to achieve greater social equity? What are some of the biggest barriers?

Questions About the Planet

Also consider a few questions about environmental stewardship.

●      What steps can our business take that might decrease greenhouse gas emissions?

●      What steps can our business take that might decrease our contributions to waste and pollution, particularly organic waste?

●      What policies might we enact to balance any tradeoffs between cost and environmental impacts?

Questions About Profits

Finally, use these questions to guide your discussions about profitability:

●      What policies or decisions can our business make to benefit the local economy? To create local jobs?

●      What tools or procedures can we adopt to help us remain profitable while investing in sustainability?

●      In what ways might an emphasis on sustainability enhance our standing and reputation among consumers?

Asking the right questions can be a helpful way to begin your shift toward the triple bottom line. If you determine that you’re ready to move forward with practical, sustainable waste management solutions, we’d love to hear from you. Contact WasteXperts at your convenience.

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