Good Body Products Does It Good

GGE: Ep 2 - Good Body Products does it Good

We put so much attention on what goes into our body and yet so little to what goes on it.

Good Body Products in Guilford Vermont has built an amazing business that uses only locally grown ingredients to create wonderful items that go on your body.

Just as importantly the business provides a great life for the founders, a wonderful couple, and thier family. Listen to Trish Thomas tell how she and her husband Chris balance work, life and family.

Eric Lowitt, Author of "The Future of Value"

Cover for The Future of ValueIn today's podcast we hear a great story from Eric Lowitt about how he is following his dreams and helping move sustainability forward in the business sector. I can't wait to get my hands on his new book "The Future of Value" when it comes out in late September. Eric has a passion for sustainability that is unstoppable. He also has that rare set of business experience and real world school of hard knocks that makes his story great. We'll hear what seperates his book from the others and what his clients are doing to become more sustainable.

Eric has done what so many entrepreneurs would love to do. He has taken his passion, written a book, and is now out there doing the work he loves. It is good for his customers, good for the economy and good for Eric. A true win-win-win. Best of all, he is just a great personable guy.

Please pardon the poor editing and less than perfect sound quality. I was trying some new equipment. Regardless, the content is top notch.

Podcast; Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. founder Jim Boyle

Jim Boyle shares an inspirational story of how he put his vision of a sustainable society into action by creating the Progressive Business Leadership Network, and then went on to create the Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. ( The Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. provides a new model of sharing that allows companies and governments to reach sustainability goals faster and at less cost through collaboration.

Want to Turn Your Business Around... Go Green

Whatever business you are in, the best way to put yourself on a track to long term success is to master the green trends of your industry. Are you a builder? Green building is the only growing trend in the space. A pest control company? People want green solutions over the conventional. Parts supplier to a major manufacturer? Manufacturers are requiring carbon footprint and input reports more than ever before and will continue to do so.

Not only will it reduce your costs, it will put you ahead of your competition.

Bloomberg's has a great article today showing how Siemens went from nearly being toppled from a bribery scandal to completely turning the company around. All of it was done by following megatrends, with green leading the way. See the article here:

If a company with over 400,000 employees can make a turnaround in a short period, surely you can.

Green pays big for GE

If you want to look at a great company by most traditional business school measures, GE gets top billing. Hence, business people should follow their lead. GE's Ecomagination line now has annual sales of $20 Billion. More importantly it is one of the fastest growing business lines in the company so its influence will continue to grow.

Ecomagination is more that just light bulbs. GE is the largest manufacturer of commercial scale wind turbines. GE bought the wind turbine business from Enron in 2002 for $200 million. This year that business will generate $7 billion in sales. Who wouldn't love to grow their business by that much. It generates more cash per month than they paid for the entire business.

Despite being a behemoth, GE can make its green programs work because it is truly committed.

When Ecomagination was launched in 2005 CEO Jeff Immelt knew that it could easily look like greenwashing and appeart to employees and teh public that senior management was not truly committed. To give focus and credibility to the program Immelt pushed for clear metrics. They included:

  1. Double R&D in the area;
  2. Quadruple revenue from the products to $20 billion in sales
  3. Be transparent about the effort to the public
  4. Run GE under the rules of the Kyoto protocol.

GE is a world leader. Those that are holding back are clinging to a past that is gone. Get on board. Companies like GE will put you out of business otherwise.

* Data for this post was taken from the article at

Stages of ROI on Eco-efficiency

Eco-efficiency pays dividends year after year. Various practitioners have different titles and phases for implementing sustainability in organizations (and buildings for that matter). I have taken those stages and put them in financial terms. The good news is the more mature you get in the phases, the more money you make over time.

Stages of Sustainability

1. Pre-compliance was what we had at the turn of the 20th century all the way until as late as the 1960's. Reckless abandon with regard to worker rights, the environment and the community.

2. Compliance is where about 90% of buildings and companies are right now. They are doing what they need to do to meet the minimal requirements to stay out of the courts.

3. Easy money is the current sweet spot for most companies and buildings. If you haven't initiated any green initiatives or if you've implemented only a few, this is where to start. Usually by upgrades in buildings and the waste stream you can see huge savings. There are two great benefits to this phase at this point in history. First, there are plenty of tax breaks that make this available without any money up front and immediate additional cash flow. Second, these items require no cultural or work practice changes by employees or building occupants. So they can be done easily for immediate cash flow.

4. Long Term Gain happens when you combine what you have already done in stage 3 to changing procedures, supply issues, stakeholder relationships and more. At this phase your profit margins will soar as you can keep price where it is (or even raise price) but your customers stay with you and you even gain more customers because your reliability is so high and people like dealing with a firm they can trust (see the book "Firms of Endearment" for plenty of evidence of this). You will be able to recruit and keep the best employees and they will be more productive than they would have been if they worked for your competitors. You are now in the virtuous cycle (the opposite of a vicious cycle). At this phase employee turnover is very low, customer loyalty is high, margins are high and sales can withstand economic downturns. If you don't believe it just ask the owners of Stonyfield Yogurt, The Body Shop and many more...

5. Highest Company Value is where the dividends really pay. Because your firm has such high margins and is at low risk, the value of the company itself is very high. When you are ready to take on new investors or sell the company or building, you will get a premium price for it.

The bottom line: The more eco-efficient you are the more money you make at every phase of implementation.

Employees forego pay for carbon neutrality

Think employees only care about money and time-off. Think again. New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins Colorado is most famous for its wonderful Fat Tire Amber beer. But it is also one of the leading companies in the world for creating a sustainable business. But the story of how it went to clean renewable energy deserves a page in HR manuals as well.

The owners of the business are committed to the environment and wanted to run on completely renewable clean energy. This is done through wind power and the on-site waste-water treatment operation.

In 1998 the 32% employee owned company brought the idea of going to wind power to a company vote. At the time it meant a 30% higher cost of electricity, most likely meaning the loss of significant end-of year bonuses for the employees. Despite knowing that their bonuses were going to suffer, the vote was unanimous to go to the clean energy solution. And not surprisingly, because of these high moral decisions, turnover is low and productivity is high because people feel like they are contributing to something bigger in the world.

To see how New Belgium produces some of its own power through it's waste-water treatment, check out this video.

New Belgium Brewing from whatis waste on Vimeo.

Sustainability Vision

If you think sustainability is important in our human systems, then you have some vision of what your company should be doing about it. Whether you are a line worker, middle manager or senior executive, your vision has some relationship to current reality. Here is a graphic I absconded from the excellent book "The Sustainability Champions Guidebook" by Bob Willard. It will help you see not only where your company is now, but what hurdles are in the way and what helpers might be available to you.

Sustainability Vision

Taking Green Business to the Bank

Want to make your company more profitable with each transaction AND worth more during your exit? Then make it truly green and the money will follow. As of January 2008, a 0.15 oz tube of Burt's Bee's lip balm cost $3.00. The same size tube of Chapstick cost 1.69. Sure, Burt's production costs were about 25% higher, but the cost at the cash register more than made up the difference.

At the time that Burt's had revenues of $164 million, the company sold to Clorox for $913 million. At a time when many businesses will sell for 2-3 times net profit, Burt's sold for nearly six times revenue.

The Body Shop was sold to L'Oreal for nearly $1.1 Billion in 2006. Far ahead of the market cap of similar companies.

The evidence is clear. Profits are higher while doing business and the exit strategy pays better to the founders if your company is truly green and responsible. And you are doing better for the world at the same time.

Starting a business? Make it truly green and socially responsible. You'll sleep better at night and make more money in the process.

Hard Proof: Social Responsibility Adds to Bottom Line

Are you still stuck in the old paradigm that acting ethically might hurt your bottom line? Think again. "Between 1995 and 2007, socially responsible investmanet assets expanded by 324 percent, sharply outpacing growth in the broader universe of investments, which increase by less than 260 percent over the same period. Social Investing is thriving as never before"*

"Even during the bust of the great recession, investing in socially responsible funds grew at a higher rate than ever"**

If you are a business owner or executive decision maker at a larger organization, keep this in mind. Doing the right thing not only allows you to sleep better at night, it adds more to the bottom line!

* Report on Socially Responsible Investing Trends in the United States, Published by Social Investment Forum, March 2008
** Time, September 21, 2009; "The Responsibility Revolution"