Out of the Cranky Closet

Usually, readers come to this blog for a regular dose of Tony crankiness. But today I have a secret to share: I’m a closet environmentalist.

My problem with this, is that, like many others, I have continuing conflicts between my heart and my head over the issue of sustainability.

My heart says do your bit for sustainability. So, quietly, I use the web to limit paper use, buy green when pricing makes it doable, take transit, and generally try to limit my footprint on this earth.

My head says these are smart moves because I’m frugal (okay, cheap), and they save money. But it also says that’s the extent of business involvement. Ordinary businesses would have a pretty hard time making a living out of sustainability.

A couple of films being shown at the Projecting Change Film Festival, April 2-5th at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas, may make me and many others rethink that, however.

Waste = Food examines how large corporations are integrating sustainability into corporate culture and saving money at the same time – a strong value proposition in these days when the expense side of the ledger counts most.

Basically, say American architect William McDonough and German ecological chemist Michael Braungart, a corporation can create value with innovative product and system design. The two have helped corporate clients such as Ford Motor Company save an estimated $35 million in construction costs and lower energy use by integrating ecologically intelligent design models in buildings. They’ve also helped Nike, Merman Miller and BASF.

Probably of more relevance to BC businesses, is the film Passion for Sustainability, which examines how 14 small businesses in the neighbouring “Pacific Northwest” have benefited environmentally and economically by implementing sustainable business models.

For example, HotLips Pizza in Portland has cut costs and created a loyal customer base by using locally grown produce to create a constantly changing and interesting menu. HotLips also delivers pizza in electric cars. In combination, the moves have increased revenue and allowed HotLips to undertake a 5-store expansion.

So I guess there’s no need to be cranky. That’s a bottom line of sustainability I can understand.