Tag Archives: sustainability

LEGO Knows Why Companies Don’t Innovate

LEGO Knows Why Companies Don't Innovate

GUEST POST from Robyn Bolton

“Lego’s Latest Effort to Avoid Oil-Based Plastic Hits Brick Wall” – WSJ

“Lego axes plans to make bricks from recycled bottles” – BBC

“Lego ditches oil-free brick in sustainability setback” – The Financial Times

Recently, LEGO found itself doing the Walk of Atonement (see video below) after announcing to The Financial Times that it was scrapping plans to make bricks from recycled bottles, and media outlets from The Wall Street Journal to Fast Company to WIRED were more than happy to play the Shame Nun.

And it wasn’t just media outlets ringing the Shame Bell:

  • In the future, they should not make these kinds of announcements (prototype made from recyclable plastic) until they actually do it,” Judith Enck, President of Beyond Plastics
  • They are not going to survive as an organization if they don’t find a solution,” Paolo Taticchi, corporate sustainability expert at University College London.
  • “Lego undoubtedly had good intentions, but if you’re going to to (sic) announce a major environmental initiative like this—one that affects the core of your company—good intentions aren’t enough. And in this instance, it can even undermine progress.” Jesus Diaz, creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, writing forFast Company

As a LEGO lover, I am not unbiased, but WOW, the amount of hypocritical, self-righteous judgment is astounding!  All these publications and pundits espouse the need for innovation, yet when a company falls even the tiniest bit short of aspirations, it’s just SHAME (clang) SHAME (clang) SHAME.

LEGO Atlantis 8073 Manta Warrior (i.e., tiny) bit of context

In 1946, LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen purchased Denmark’s first plastic injection molding machine.  Today, 95% of the company’s 4,400 different bricks are made using acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a plastic that requires 4.4 pounds of oil to produce 2.2 pounds of brick.  Admittedly, it’s not a great ratio, and it gets worse.  The material isn’t biodegradable or easily recyclable, so when the 3% of bricks not handed down to the next generation end up in a landfill, they’ll break down into highly polluting microplastics.

With this context, it’s easy to understand why LEGO’s 2018 announcement that it will move to all non-plastic or recycled materials by 2030 and reduce its carbon emissions by 37% (from 2019’s 1.2 million tons) by 2032 was such big news.

Three years later, in 2021, LEGO announced that its prototype bricks made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles offered a promising alternative to its oil-based plastic bricks. 

But last Monday, after two years of testing, the company shared that what was promising as a prototype isn’t possible at scale because the process required to produce PET-based bricks actually increases carbon emissions.


LEGO Art World Map (i.e. massive) amount of praise for LEGO

LEGO is doing everything that innovation theorists, consultants, and practitioners recommend:

  • Setting a clear vision and measurable goals so that people know what the priorities are (reduce carbon emissions), why they’re important (“playing our part in building a sustainable future and creating a better world for our children to inherit”), and the magnitude of change required
  • Defining what is on and off the table in terms of innovation, specifically that they are not willing to compromise the quality, durability, or “clutch power” of bricks to improve sustainability
  • Developing a portfolio of bets that includes new materials for products and packaging, new services to keep bricks out of landfills and in kids’ hands, new building and production processes, and active partnerships with suppliers to reduce their climate footprint
  • Prototyping and learning before committing to scale because what is possible at a prototype level is different than what’s possible at pilot, which is different from what’s possible at scale.
  • Focusing on the big picture and the long-term by not going for the near-term myopic win of declaring “we’re making bricks from more sustainable materials” and instead deciding “not to progress” with something that, when taken as a whole process, moves the company further away from its 2032 goal.

Just one minifig’s opinion

If we want companies to innovate (and we do), shaming them for falling short of perfection is the absolute wrong way to do it.

Is it disappointing that something that seemed promising didn’t work out?  Of course.  But it’s just one of many avenues and experiments being pursued.  This project ended, but the pursuit of the goal hasn’t.

Is 2 years a long time to figure out that you can’t scale a prototype and still meet your goals?  Maybe.  But, then again, it took P&G 10 years to figure out how to develop and scale a perforation that improved one-handed toilet paper tearing.

Should LEGO have kept all its efforts and success a secret until everything was perfect and ready to launch?  Absolutely not.  Sharing its goals and priorities, experiments and results, learnings and decisions shows employees, partners, and other companies what it means to innovate and lead.

Is LEGO perfect? No.

Is it trying to be better? Yes.

Isn’t that what we want?

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Innovation or Not – Liquid Trees

Innovation or Not - Liquid Trees

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

Innovation has become the driving force behind progress in today’s world. From cutting-edge technologies to groundbreaking scientific discoveries, we are continuously witnessing the power of human ingenuity. However, amidst all the revolutionary advancements, it is essential to question what truly defines innovation. Do we only consider groundbreaking and high-tech inventions as innovative? Or can innovation be found in something as simple as nature itself?

One such marvel of nature that challenges our perception of innovation is the concept of liquid trees. Unlike traditional trees, liquid trees are not rooted in the ground, nor do they possess a solid structure. Instead, they are composed of water particles suspended in the air, forming swirling, fluid-like formations. And while this might seem like a whimsical notion, it holds the potential to revolutionize our understanding of sustainability and environmental conservation.

Liquid trees, also known as aeroplankton or aeroplanktic organisms, are a prominent example of biomimicry – the imitation of nature’s designs to solve human problems. By emulating the way these organisms harness air and water for sustenance, we can develop innovative solutions for resource management and energy production.

One of the most striking aspects of liquid trees is their ability to extract moisture from the atmosphere. Just like traditional trees draw water from the ground through their roots, these ethereal counterparts can collect airborne water particles and convert them into a usable form. This unique trait makes liquid trees a potential solution for regions facing water scarcity.

Imagine a world where buildings are equipped with liquid tree-inspired systems that capture and condense atmospheric water vapor, providing a sustainable source of freshwater. Not only would this technology alleviate the pressure on depleted groundwater reserves but it would also reduce our carbon footprint by eliminating the need for energy-intensive water treatment processes.

Aeroplankton also holds promise in the realm of renewable energy. The flow and circulation of air around liquid trees are akin to those in wind turbines, presenting an opportunity for wind energy innovation. By mimicking the dynamics of these floating organisms, we can design wind turbines that are more efficient and less intrusive to the environment. Imagine harnessing clean energy from the gentle swaying of these ethereal structures, without the need for expansive wind farms blotting the landscape.

Moreover, liquid trees can serve as a reminder of the beauty and resilience found in nature. In an increasingly urbanized world, where concrete jungles replace lush green forests, we often lose sight of the wonders around us. The concept of liquid trees challenges us to appreciate the elegance and adaptability of nature’s designs and incorporate them into our own technological advancements.

Innovation is not limited to high-tech gadgets or intricate algorithms. It encompasses any creative solution that pushes the boundaries of what we perceive as possible. Liquid trees serve as a humbling reminder that sometimes the most ingenious ideas can be found in the simplest of forms.

As we strive for sustainable solutions and progress towards a greener future, let us not overlook the lessons nature has to offer. By embracing the concept of liquid trees and exploring its applications, we can redefine innovation and lead the way towards a more harmonious coexistence with our environment. After all, the true test of innovation lies in our ability to find inspiration in the natural world and create something truly extraordinary.

But There is Another Kind of Liquid Tree

Innovation continues to surprise us with extraordinary ideas that challenge our perception of what is possible. One such remarkable innovation in the field of sustainability is the Liquid 3 photo-bioreactor. Drawing inspiration from liquid trees and biomimicry, these photo-bioreactors take the concept of harnessing renewable energy from nature to new heights.

Liquid 3 photo-bioreactors, also known as algae bioreactors, capitalize on the remarkable ability of photosynthetic microorganisms to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into valuable products, including biofuels and high-protein biomass. These bioreactors consist of transparent acrylic tubes filled with a suspension of algae, which are then immersed in a liquid medium.

The process of photosynthesis takes place within the tubes as sunlight penetrates, providing energy for the algae to drive their growth. Depending on the specific intent, the algae can be engineered to produce specific compounds or simply utilized to capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the most significant advantages of Liquid 3 photo-bioreactors is their efficiency in converting sunlight into energy. Unlike traditional biofuel production methods, which require vast land areas for growing crops like corn or sugarcane, these bioreactors can be installed in smaller spaces, such as urban rooftops or alongside buildings’ exteriors. This vertical integration allows for the absorption of sunlight from various angles, optimizing energy capture.

Furthermore, Liquid 3 photo-bioreactors have shown impressive productivity compared to traditional crop-based systems. Algae in these bioreactors can multiply rapidly, thanks to their highly efficient nutrient absorption and growth rates, resulting in higher yields of valuable biomass. Additionally, algae cultivation does not compete with food crops for arable land, making it a sustainable alternative for biofuel and food production.

The potential applications for Liquid 3 photo-bioreactors extend beyond energy production. They have shown promise in wastewater treatment, where algae can effectively remove pollutants and excess nutrients from water bodies. This approach not only cleanses the water but also turns a waste product into a valuable resource, as the harvested algae can be further processed for various applications, including fertilizer production or bioplastics.

Liquid 3 photo-bioreactors emphasize the interconnectedness between sustainable energy production, environmental stewardship, and economic benefits. By utilizing these bioreactors, we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, mitigate climate change by capturing carbon dioxide, and generate valuable by-products that contribute to a circular economy.

As with any innovation, there are challenges to overcome. Scaling up the production and implementation of Liquid 3 photo-bioreactors remains an area of active research and development. Identifying the ideal algae strains for maximum productivity, optimizing the system’s design and operational parameters, and ensuring cost-effectiveness are all key factors to consider.

However, the potential benefits far outweigh the challenges. Liquid 3 photo-bioreactors offer a promising solution to the pressing global issues of energy sustainability, carbon emissions, and waste management. By embracing this innovative approach, we can make substantial progress towards a greener and more sustainable future.

In conclusion, Liquid 3 photo-bioreactors intertwine the principles of biomimicry, renewable energy, and circular economy. By emulating the efficiency of natural photosynthesis, these bioreactors bring us closer to achieving a harmonious and sustainable coexistence with our environment – absorbing carbon dioxide and adding oxygen to urban centers equivalent to the impact of two ten-year old trees. As we continue to explore and develop these remarkable technologies, let us remain open to the lessons nature has to offer, using innovation as a catalyst for positive change.

It will be interesting to see whether either of these types of liquid trees catch on. I guess only time will tell.

So, what do you think? Innovation or not?

Image credit: Liquid 3

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The Triple Bottom Line Framework

The Triple Bottom Line Framework

GUEST POST from Dainora Jociute

Money, money, money. It wasn’t so long ago that it was always sunny in the rich man’s world. But today, things just aren’t that easy, and talking about money isn’t enough.

Businesses cannot thrive and survive in a competitive environment with only one bottom line – profit.

United Nations Global Compact report points out that such issues as poverty, an uneducated workforce, and resource scarcity will, and already is, causing issues for business growth. In addition, both investors and potential talents are looking deeper than just the company’s financial success before they commit. So, next to Profit, business’s effect on People and the Planet are just as crucial measurement indicators.

“Poverty, conflict, an uneducated workforce, and resource scarcity for example, are also strategic issues for business success and viability.”
– UN Global Compact

And what do you get once you combine all three? Planet, People, and Profit are often referred to as the three pillars of sustainability. However, for a business to define sustainability, to have clear and reachable goals, and in return to have a fitting strategy to reach those goals can be challenging.

This is where the need and benefits of the triple bottom line framework become most evident.

What is the Triple Bottom Line Framework?

The term triple bottom line (TBL) was coined by John Elkington, corporate environmentalist, and author back in 1994. It isn’t exactly a new concept and we had plenty of time to see it being tried on by different companies like Patagonia, Unilever, Novo Nordisk and so many more. It is evident that the triple bottom line approach works.

So, what exactly is TBL?

Many like to argue that it is just another accounting tool. Yet in Elkington’s own words, it is a sustainability framework that examines an organization’s social, environmental, and economic impact. It measures a business’s environmental efforts (“planet account”), social well-being (“people account”), and a fair economy. It can be implemented by a business, a non-profit organization, or a governmental institution. It is flexible and adaptable.

Decades before the triple bottom line, the dominant belief was that the only responsibility a business has is to generate profit. It was set in place by economist Milton Friedman and his shareholder theory. With TBL, Elkington challenged the status quo by proposing accountability to all stakeholders and not just shareholders.

In addition to helping with planning sustainable growth, the triple bottom line can act as a reporting tool, thus, it focuses on long-term results and not just one-off campaigns to gain some publicity – can an organization sustain a just economy, environmental resources, and human capital?

Once we shift our attention from quarterly reports to a span of multiple years,

sustainability is no longer just a “to-do” list, but an opportunity that will rejuvenate business in an economy that does not exploit natural resources and social systems.

Triple Bottom Line 3 Areas

The Three Pillars of Sustainability

The triple bottom line goes hand in hand with the 1987’s Brundtland Report and the three key areas of development established by it: environmental conservation (Planet), economic development (Profit), and social sustainability (People).

Yet the definition of sustainability is a little bit more complex than that.

It is natural, that once you think of sustainability, your mind might wander to emissions, deforestation, climate change, and other related issues. For the longest, environmental changes have been the most reported and the most talked about topic. And for a good reason. The environmental pillar or Planet is considered to be the most important component of sustainability as it contains the social and economic systems within it.

But just like there wouldn’t be people without a planet, there wouldn’t be a business without people, and there wouldn’t be prosperity without business. All three areas are tightly interconnected and initiatives to address one often overlap with the other area, and naturally, when everything is so tightly knit, trade-offs are inevitable.

Sometimes decisions must be made to accommodate people at the cost of the environment OR decisions must be made to solve one environmental issue at the cost of another. A good example here would be an effort to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic bags by offering paper bags instead. Paper bags are easier to recycle and even if they do end up in a landfill, the lifespan of paper is drastically shorter than plastics. However, paper bag production is resource-heavy, consuming “four times more energy than plastic bags”.

Trade-offs make it impossible to talk about sustainability without considering all the pillars equally. Implementing the triple bottom line helps a business to form a holistic view of it.

Sustainability strives for:

  • Viable environmental-economic impact: business is executed with the environment and resources in mind, when possible, looking for green solutions or giving back, i.e., reforestation work.
    Trade-off: green business solutions can be intrusive and negatively affect private property (i.e., wind turbines in neighboring lands).
  • Bearable socio-environmental impact: education and awareness allow people to make environmentally conscious decisions, curb consumption and develop healthy habits that directly impact the environment.
    Trade-off: minimal consumption and complete protection of the land stalls economic growth.
  • Equitable socio-economic impact: people have an opportunity to work and earn a fair wage, and business strives to increase the general welfare of the people and increase the standard of living. This generates economic opportunity for both businesses and individuals. Corporate taxes also play a crucial role here – it is thanks to taxes that an organization contributes to supporting various societal programs.
    Trade-off: new business ventures can create more jobs but increase consumption of nonrenewable materials.


Planet bottom line focuses on an organization’s environmental impact, both positive and negative. Sustainable innovation (or on the environmental scale – eco-innovation), helps an organization to place its focus on the environment, by improving its production, manufacturing, marketing, and also all the in-house functions.

Impact on the planet can be created by such efforts as choosing natural and/or locally sourced materials, upcycling waste, using recyclable components, reducing unnecessary travel time, or saving energy usage.

Positive environmental impact can seem grandiose and nearly impossible to achieve. Not every organization is equally equipped to take drastic measures and pursue such efforts as reforestation, ocean clean-up, or full refurbishment of manufacturing facilities. Thus, while many regulations and recommendations exist, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sustainability. Reporting and measurement really depend on such variables as the organization’s industry, location, size, and financial capabilities.

In addition, pursuing this bottom line can put the business in limbo, forcing it to decide between faster or more sustainable goods delivery; lower-costing or ethically sourced materials, and so on. These and similar initiatives can seem costly and counterproductive to what a business should be doing – generating profit. Yet like with most things in life, sustainability is not just black or white and it would not be a prevailing topic if there wasn’t true profit to be gained.

Benefits of The Planet Bottom Line

Besides the obvious emotional benefits of saving the earth, just feeling good while doing good, and complying with regulations there are practical reasons why you should pursue Planet bottom line:

  1. Satisfying consumer demand: GreenPrint’s 2022 Business of Sustainability Index indicates that demand for sustainable services and products is growing with 69% of respondents saying that “a product’s environmental friendliness is important to their purchasing decision” and 78% agreeing that they are interested in buying from environmentally friendly businesses.
  2. New business opportunities: a shift towards net zero is creating demand for new green solutions. A recent report by McKinsey indicates that reaching net zero by 2050 requires “investments amount to $9.2 trillion per year, of which $6.5 trillion annually would go into low-emissions assets and enabling infrastructure”.
  3. Cost reduction: in another report McKinsey notes that environmentally focused initiatives can “improve operating profits by up to 60%”, by reducing unnecessary waste as well as the usage of water or raw materials, that due to growing scarcity, are becoming more and more expensive.
  4. Improved brand image: knowing that consumers are seeking environmentally friendly products and services, it makes sense to invest in and report on sustainability initiatives. It improves the brand’s image which can lead to increased sales. In addition, nowadays, stakeholders can easily hold an organization accountable for action or inaction, thanks to the speed at which information spreads on social media. Even the smallest misstep by a brand can be rapidly broadcast to millions, causing damage, and leading to lost revenue.
  5. Minimizing regulatory risks: Staying within safe lines of regulations keeps your organization from fines and penalties. Plus, it’s typically easier and less expensive to take such measures proactively, than it is to do so when your hand is forced.
  6. Competitive edge: by excelling at and advocating for an environmental cause, an organization can put pressure on its competitors and use the achievement as a competitive advantage.

Initiatives to Consider

As mentioned earlier, pursuing The Planet bottom line does not necessarily mean making big and drastic changes. Environmentally positive impact-creating initiatives that you can consider are:

  • Recycling opportunity in-house and limited use of materials (i.e., unnecessary printing).
  • Reducing travel, remote work opportunities, and/or public transportation benefits.
  • Partnerships with green businesses and buying locally manufactured goods.
  • Optimizing and reducing energy consumption.
  • Seasonal company-wide green initiatives (i.e., day to collect trash or volunteer).
  • Becoming an ambassador of an environmental cause and advocating for it.
  • Creating an option for customers and employees to donate instead of receiving material gifts.
  • Workshops and training to educate and bring awareness on environmental issues and how the organization can positively impact it.
  • Find innovative ways to be more effective or efficient in your operations by involving employees.

The bigger picture will always be comprised of smaller bits and pieces and while the above-mentioned initiatives might seem small, put together they can make an impact. That’s why giving your employees a voice and engaging the whole organization is so important. While it might sound like a big and complex feat, right tools, such as Viima can simplify the process allowing you to run idea challenges on sustainable innovation and development topics.


Now, while environmental initiatives are important on many different levels, from a business point of view, they should contribute to profit generation. Thus, once your Planet bottom line initiatives are in place and running, it is crucial to report on them either on your website, or in your annual business or sustainability report.

The Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) came into effect back in 2018 requiring public interest companies with more than 500 employees to report on how they are dealing with sustainability matters. In 2024 we will see an additional directive on Corporate Sustainability Reporting which will apply to large companies that meet 2 of the following 3 criteria: more than 250 employees; more than €40 million net turnover; more than €20 million on the statement of financial position.

But reporting should be considered by small organizations too as talking about your achievements beyond the mandatory reporting will positively affect your brand image, it will increase transparency, and improve your reputation.

Reporting and measurement of positive impact can be quite difficult, especially if it is a voluntary initiative and is not based on any regulation-implied requirements. Below is a list of KPIs to consider:

  • Information on electricity consumption.
  • Information on fossil fuel consumption.
  • Information on waste management.
  • Change in land use/land cover.
  • Reduction in greenhouse gas emission.
  • Amount of waste generated and, when relevant – amount recycled.
  • Amount of ethically sourced materials.
  • Information on volunteering or charitable work done.
  • Information on new local, sustainable partnerships.

People and the Triple Bottom Line Pexels


People of the triple bottom line encompasses all the people included in or affected by a business.

It goes far beyond just the small circle of shareholders. This category includes (but is not limited to) employees, suppliers, wholesalers, customers, local or global communities within which the business operates, and future generations. Some people like to emphasize the future generations by separating it into the fourth sphere and adjusting the framework’s name to quadruple the bottom line. Yet in J. Elkington’s views, the future generations are simply an inseparable part of society, and it fits just perfectly in the People category.

There are certain aspects of this bottom line that might be regulated by local or regional governing bodies. For example, local labor law might indicate a specific number of working hours per week, how long lunch breaks your employees are eligible to take or what kind of health insurance the company must provide. However, as with all things sustainability, social responsibility extends beyond the bare minimum – it is a business’ voluntary and proactive way of recognizing its impacts on stakeholders.

The People aspect is an organization’s social impact or social responsibility. And as earlier cited UN Global Compact states, “social responsibility should be a critical part of any business because it affects the quality of a business relationship with stakeholders”.

Benefits of The People Bottom Line

Social initiatives might not be seen as profitable in the short run, but on a bigger scale, doing what is right and doing good positively affects the company’s standing amongst its competitors. For example, such initiatives can positively affect the following:

  1. Employee retention: Companies that invest in their employees’ satisfaction end up saving resources in the longer run. Time and money spent searching, hiring, and training employees can be invested in different opportunities. In addition, people that want to stick around in a company indicate good organizational health and improve brand image.
  2. Attraction of top talents: More and more routine work is being automated, and value is starting to be increasingly created by fewer people of higher talent creating systems, processes, and technology (=innovations) that drive value. Thus, attracting these top talents is increasingly important, but more and more of these people are these days motivated by factors such as the purpose and mission of the organization beyond just compensation, career growth, etc. more traditional factors.
  3. Customer loyalty: Companies willing to walk that extra mile, give to societies or contribute to positive impact will reap the benefits of a better brand image, and in line with their customers’ social values they will naturally have a chance to retain old and attract new customers.
  4. Raising capital: Socially responsible investing is constantly growing and the opportunity to attract investors depends on the organization’s sustainability achievements, the social aspect and how your organization treats people are always on the list of things to be evaluated.
  5. Avoiding risk: Strong commitment to social initiatives will eliminate work-disrupting and reputation-damaging risks. Any mistreatment of an employee or other community member can cause a severe backlash that will affect the organization’s profitability. In addition, the business’s focus on social responsibility in return creates supply chain security.
  6. Expanding the market: If most people can’t afford to buy your services, the size of your market dramatically increases if you are able to a) lower the prices of your products by decreasing costs, and/or b) by helping improve the income of said people. Combining both can be a powerful way to grow the business and create a more positive impact all around you.
  7. Source for innovation: As mentioned in our earlier article social issues need to be addressed and this in return can create business opportunities – “more than 80% of economic growth comes from innovation and application of new knowledge.” People-centric innovation (social innovation) enables the business to tap into that growth and reap benefits.

Initiatives to Consider

There are a lot of organizations that go far beyond the basic in-house social needs and are willing (and are financially capable) to give back to communities with charity work, donations, education grants, and various volunteering and community engagement initiatives.

However, not every company is capable of running such initiatives. Smaller-scale improvements like supporting your employees in setting up home offices with recycled or new equipment can be a great morale boost. In return, it creates comfort for people to work from home, reducing time spent commuting and/or using cars, leaning toward the Planet bottom line. With sustainability, every small effort counts.

  • Paid internships for students.
  • Organizing educational projects for externals (i.e., coding academy for students, job searching training).
  • Skill training and learning opportunities for employees.
  • Internal anti-racist training.
  • Employee surveys or feedback to keep everyone in the loop.
  • Salary transparency.
  • Employee stock plan.
  • Volunteering work within the nearest communities.


Topics to report on and how your organization’s initiatives affected them can be:

  • Demographics of your employees and partners (i.e., working with small or minority-owned businesses).
  • Vacation days collected and used to see whether employees are rested and not overworked.
  • The average difference between wages and finances needed for minimum living standards in the area.
  • Average commuting time.
  • Average employee benefits.
  • Information on diversity of employees.
  • Job safety KPIs (i.e., reported incidents, corrective actions taken).
  • The number of new jobs created.
  • Hours spent on employee or external communities’ training.
  • Information on second-tier suppliers (i.e., where and how your first-tier suppliers are sourcing materials).

Dubai Skyline Unsplash


Profit by default seems to be the most analyzed and the best-understood segment of all the three covered in this article. By definition, profit means “money that is earned in trade or business after paying the costs of producing and selling goods and services”.

TBL is not meant to discount profit in any way – rather incorporate it into the other two legs of sustainability: investment in social initiatives or environmental projects relies directly on profit and a company that does not do well financially cannot contribute to the other areas – social and environmental impact.

Profit refers to the influence that the organization is creating on the whole environment within which it operates: ethical means to earn a profit; cooperating with and supporting ethical partners; fair wages and full taxes paid.

Profit as a component of TBL is pretty straightforward, yet there are certain aspects that might be confusing. And it seems to arise from a two-sided view of Profit: the philanthropic take with emphasis to give back to society as a charity, and pure profit to satisfy shareholders.

However, when talking about sustainability and the triple bottom line, these two sides are inseparable. The company can stay in business and drive value for the People and the Planet only if it makes a profit.

The triple bottom line’s Profit is a cycle: a business that makes a profit can then invest in innovation, creating a positive impact on the Planet and the People; can then pay taxes that in return will be used for social good; can then grow to create jobs for People and so on.

Key Points


The triple bottom line like other sustainability-oriented initiatives can seem quite idealistic in a world still strongly focused on profit.

But as McKinsey report over the past 5 years, investment into sustainable funds has been on a rise and even if current environmental, social, and governance (ESG) frameworks are far from perfect, ESG considerations are becoming more important in companies decision making. In addition, investing in sustainable innovation does result in stronger economies, higher living standards, and more opportunities for individuals.

There are no better words, to sum up this article than John Elkington’s words:

“To truly shift the needle, however, we need a new wave of TBL innovation and deployment. None of these sustainability frameworks will be enough, as long as they lack the suitable pace and scale — the necessary radical intent — needed to stop us all overshooting our planetary boundaries.”

The challenge here is that businesses still must satisfy shareholders and to deliver the value they have to make tradeoffs. There’s no one golden rule on how to satisfy all three areas of TBL equally, it is a continuous, balancing act, and decision-making should be based on long-term goals. But the fact is, that decisions must be made, and it is the best time to go beyond planning and start implementing.

This article was previously published in Viima’s blog.

Image Credits: Unsplash, Viima, Pexels

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Is Now the Time to Finally End Our Culture of Disposability?

Is Now the Time to Finally End Our Culture of Disposability?Quality used to mean something to companies.

A century ago, when people parted with their hard-earned money to buy something, they expected it to last one or more lifetimes.

Durability was a key design criteria.

But, as the stock market became more central to the American psyche and to executive compensation, the quality of available products and services began to decline in the name of profits above all else.


Ford Quality is job oneThere was a temporary consumer revolt decades ago that resulted in companies pretending that quality was more important than profits, but it didn’t last long. In the end, Americans accepted the decline in quality as outsourcing and globalization led to declining prices (and of course higher profits) and fewer goods carrying the “Made in the USA” label, quickly replaced by Japan, China, Mexico, Vietnam, Bangladesh and the rest.

An Inconvenient TruthAround the turn of the century we had the birth of the Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) movement followed a few years later by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Perhaps people were beginning to wake up to the fact that our planet’s resources are not infinite and our culture of disposability was catching up to us.

But these movements failed to maintain their momentum and the tidal wave of stores stocking disposable goods continued unabated – dollar stores and party stores spread across the country like a virus. States like New York began shipping their garbage across borders as their landfills reached capacity. Unsold goods began being dumped on the African continent and elsewhere (think about all those t-shirts printed up for the team that didn’t end up winning the Super Bowl).

Is now the time for the winds to shift yet again in favor of quality and sustainability after decades of disposability?

Will more companies better embrace sustainability like Patagonia is attempting to do?

People have been complaining for years about the high cost to repair Apple products and the increasing difficulty of executing these repairs oneself. Recently Apple was FORCED by shareholder activists to allow people to repair their iPhones. Here is their press release that tries to put a positive spin on what they were pressured into doing.

This is the moment for shareholder activists and governments around the world to force companies to design for repairability, reuse and a true accounting of the costs of their products and services inflict upon the populace and the planet. The European Union and Mexico are working together towards this not just because the planet needs this, but because The Circular Economy Creates New Business Opportunities.

Meanwhile, Toyota recently announced that starting this year (2022) in Japan that they will retrofit late-model cars with new technology if the customer desires it. The company aims to let motorists benefit from new technology without having to buy a new car. The LoraxToyota calls this “uppgrading” and defines it as retrofitting safety and convenience functions, like blind spot monitoring, emergency braking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and the addition of a hands-free tailgate or trunk lid. Remodeling will also be an option and will include replacing worn or damaged parts inside and out, such as the upholstery, the seat cushions, and the steering wheel.

Are these two companies voluntary and involuntary actions the beginning of a trend – finally?

Or will the culture of disposability continue unabated until our natural resources are exhausted?

Do we truly live in the land of the Lorax?

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons, OldHouseOnline

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Technology Not Always the Key to Innovation

Technology Not Always the Key to Innovation

Humans love technology and often we make the mistake of thinking that technology is the only path to innovation.

But there are many examples that prove this is often folly…

The wine industry offers a couple of great examples.

Alternative Wine Innovation Opportunity #1 – Barn Owls

Some vintners in Napa Valley, California are eschewing potentially harmful high-tech rodenticides in favor of fluffy little barn owls to control the local rodent population and to reduce damage to the vineyards. Low-tech or no-tech sometimes provides more sustainable solutions than seemingly convenient high-tech solutions.

Alternative Wine Innovation Opportunity #2 – Music

Mozart in the Vineyard…

A winemaker in Tuscany, Italy has taken to the airwaves to improve the quality of his wines, installing speakers around his vineyard that caress his vines with Mozart during the growing process and the barrels of juice during the winemaking process.

One of the primary benefits of the continuous music is said to be a decrease in the use of insecticides because pests like crickets are forced to leave the area because they can communicate with each other. The music is also said to operate in similar frequencies to running water, causing the grapes to grow better the closer they are to the speakers.

One of the most brilliant parts of the clip is the part where the vintner lets it slip that he has partnered with Bose on the project.

Creating a win-win partnership with a company that might benefit from helping to fund an alternative approach is a great way for an entrepreneurial innovator to reduce the risk and the cost of their experiment.

It is also a great way to work with the partner to create equipment fit for purpose that will ultimately perform better than off the shelf components and for the partner will represent solutions they can use to open up a new market.


Technology is not always the path to innovation, but it is easy to forget this.

It is easy to take shortcuts and not spend enough time finding problems worth solving and to not carefully define the right problem to solve.

Technology is seductive and marketers are skilled at making a technology-based solution seem like the easiest solution or even – the only one. But often, if we keep our minds open and our field of vision spread wide, we may notice low-technology solutions that solve the problem either better or in more sustainable ways or in ways with additional benefits.

So keep your eyes and ears, and all of your other senses, peeled for all potential solutions, not just the high technology ones.

Future of Sustainable Packaging: Innovations and Best Practices

Future of Sustainable Packaging: Innovations and Best Practices

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In the era of environmental consciousness, businesses around the world are actively working towards adopting sustainable packaging practices. As consumers increasingly demand eco-friendly alternatives, it is essential for companies to incorporate innovative solutions to reduce waste and promote a greener future. This article explores the future of sustainable packaging, highlighting key innovations and best practices through the analysis of two case studies.

Case Study 1: Loop – Closing the Loop on Packaging

Loop, a global initiative by TerraCycle, aims to address the problem of waste generated by single-use packaging. Loop revolutionizes packaging by introducing a reusable model. Businesses partnering with Loop offer everyday products in durable, refillable containers, eliminating the need for single-use packaging. Customers order products online, receiving them in customized, returnable packaging. Once products are consumed, consumers simply return the empty containers via a provided carrier service, completing the loop. The containers are then meticulously cleaned, refilled, and made ready for reuse. This innovative approach significantly reduces packaging waste and encourages a circular economy mindset.

Loop’s success lies in creating a collaborative ecosystem comprising various stakeholders. Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, and PepsiCo have partnered with Loop to integrate their products into the reusable packaging platform. Through this collaboration, Loop is able to tackle packaging waste at scale while offering an exciting and convenient shopping experience for consumers. Such initiatives serve as a powerful example of how innovation can transform the packaging industry.

Case Study 2: Ecovative Design – Mushroom-Based Packaging

Ecovative Design, a New York-based company, has developed a biodegradable and sustainable packaging solution using mycelium – the vegetative part of fungi. By harnessing the natural adhesive properties of mycelium, Ecovative Design creates packaging materials that are not only biodegradable but also fully compostable, reducing the environmental impact associated with traditional packaging materials.

Mushroom-based packaging offers numerous benefits beyond sustainability. It provides exceptional protection and cushioning for fragile goods and is adaptable to various shapes and sizes, making it suitable for a wide range of products. Additionally, it requires minimal energy and resources to produce, resulting in a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to conventional alternatives.

The innovative mycelium packaging created by Ecovative Design has gained recognition from major companies. Furniture retailer IKEA, for instance, has adopted this eco-friendly packaging solution for some of its products. This case study demonstrates how sustainable packaging solutions can successfully infiltrate well-established industries, having a positive impact on both the environment and the bottom line.

Best Practices for a Sustainable Packaging Future:

1. Embrace recyclable and reusable materials: Companies should prioritize using materials that are easily recyclable or capable of multiple reuse cycles, reducing waste and promoting a circular economy.
2. Optimize packaging design: By employing efficient design techniques, businesses can minimize material usage and optimize space, reducing packaging waste and transportation costs.
3. Educate and engage consumers: Transparently communicate the benefits of sustainable packaging to consumers, fostering awareness and encouraging eco-conscious purchasing habits.
4. Collaborate and share knowledge: Encourage industry-wide collaboration to advance sustainable packaging practices through shared knowledge, research, and solutions.


The future of sustainable packaging lies in innovation and collaboration. By investing in research and development, companies can lower their environmental impact while meeting customer demands for greener alternatives. Through case studies like Loop and Ecovative Design, we see that rethinking packaging systems and materials can lead to highly successful and scalable solutions. By embracing best practices, incorporating sustainable materials, and engaging consumers, businesses can play a vital role in shaping a more sustainable future for packaging.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Building a Greener Future with Sustainable Innovations

Building a Greener Future with Sustainable Innovations

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In a world where environmental concerns are more pressing than ever, the imperative to pioneer sustainable innovations has never been clearer. While the challenge is daunting, it is also brimming with opportunities for companies, individuals, and societies to lead transformative change. This article delves deep into the concept of sustainable innovations and presents compelling case studies to inspire our collective journey toward a greener future.

What are Sustainable Innovations?

Sustainable innovations are developments that meet present societal needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet theirs. It is about designing products, services, processes, and business models that have minimal negative impacts on the environment while adding value to society and enhancing economic viability.

Why is Sustainability Essential?

  1. Environmental Preservation: Limiting the use of non-renewable resources and reducing emissions can help mitigate climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pollution.
  2. Economic Growth: Sustainable practices can lead to new industries, job creation, and economic resilience through energy savings, waste reduction, and efficient resource utilization.
  3. Social Responsibility: Consumers increasingly demand that companies act as responsible stewards of the planet, leading to higher brand loyalty and reputation.

Case Study 1: Tesla’s Electric Vehicle Revolution

When we talk about sustainable innovations, it is impossible to overlook Tesla’s monumental impact on the automotive industry. Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by creating compelling electric vehicles (EVs) has redefined what we thought possible.

Key Innovations:

  1. Electric Drivetrain: Tesla’s electric vehicles, powered by advanced battery technology, prove that high performance and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. With increasing ranges and decreasing costs, EVs are now a viable alternative to traditional petrol and diesel vehicles.
  2. Supercharger Network: Tesla has built an extensive global network of high-speed charging stations, addressing one of the main barriers to EV adoption — range anxiety. These stations are powered increasingly by renewable energy sources, ensuring that the shift to electric vehicles truly benefits the environment.
  3. Autonomous Driving: Tesla’s integration of autonomous driving technology aims to improve traffic efficiency, reduce accidents, and potentially lower the energy consumption associated with driving, thus contributing further to a sustainable future.

Case Study 2: Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan

Unilever, a global consumer goods giant, has demonstrated how large corporations can embed sustainability at the core of their business strategy through its Sustainable Living Plan, first launched in 2010.

Key Innovations:

  1. Sustainable Sourcing: Unilever has committed to sustainably sourcing 100% of its agricultural raw materials. By doing so, it supports biodiversity, enhances soil health, and ensures the livelihoods of farmers and workers.
  2. Circular Packaging: Unilever is a leader in reducing plastic waste. Its innovations in circular packaging involve creating recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025. Initiatives like the “Refill Revolution” encourage consumers to bring back reusable containers, significantly reducing single-use plastics.
  3. Carbon Reduction: The company has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2039. This includes optimizing the entire supply chain, from manufacturing to transportation. They’ve reduced emissions through energy-efficient practices, renewable energy use, and redesigning products to minimize environmental impact.

Path Forward: Embracing Sustainable Innovations

While the efforts of companies like Tesla and Unilever are inspiring, they should not be outliers but rather the norm. Here are a few ways to foster a culture of sustainable innovation:

  1. Cross-sector Collaboration: Collaboration between businesses, governments, academia, and NGOs can spur innovation. Shared knowledge and resources can amplify the impact of sustainable solutions.
  2. Consumer Awareness and Engagement: Educating consumers about the benefits and importance of sustainable products can drive demand, incentivizing businesses to innovate.
  3. Regulatory Support: Governments can play a crucial role by providing incentives for businesses to invest in sustainable practices and penalizing those that fall short.
  4. Investment in Research and Development: Continuous investment in R&D is essential for discovering breakthrough technologies and processes that drive sustainability.


The journey toward a sustainable future is long and complex, but it is undeniably the path we must take. Sustainable innovations not only mitigate environmental damage but also offer economic and societal rewards.

As thought leaders, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and citizens, we all have roles to play in fostering and adopting sustainable innovations. Together, let’s build a greener, brighter, and more equitable future.

SPECIAL BONUS: The very best change planners use a visual, collaborative approach to create their deliverables. A methodology and tools like those in Change Planning Toolkit™ can empower anyone to become great change planners themselves.

Image credit: misterinnovation.com

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The Rise of Circular Economy and its Implications for Businesses

The Rise of Circular Economy and its Implications for Businesses

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in the way businesses approach sustainability and resource management. The concept of a circular economy has gained significant traction, offering a viable solution to address environmental concerns, resource scarcity, and economic inefficiencies. This thought leadership article explores the rise of the circular economy and delves into its implications for businesses, showcasing two inspiring case studies.

1. Case Study: Patagonia’s Worn Wear Program:

Patagonia, the renowned outdoor clothing company, has become a pioneer in adopting circular economy principles. In 2013, they launched their innovative Worn Wear program that encourages customers to repair, reuse, and recycle their clothing and gear. By offering free repairs, Patagonia extends the lifespan of their products, minimizing waste and tapping into the potential of a ‘circular’ supply chain.

This program not only reduces environmental impact but also fosters strong customer loyalty. Patagonia’s commitment to durability, ethical manufacturing practices, and resourcefulness resonates with their target audience, inspiring them to value the brand and its sustainable values. Through the Worn Wear program, Patagonia has not only positively impacted the environment but also created a sustainable business model driven by circularity.

Implication for Businesses:

Patagonia’s Worn Wear program showcases that embracing circular economy principles can lead to enhanced brand reputation, customer loyalty, and long-term profitability. By extending the lifespan of products, companies can reduce raw material usage, production costs, and environmental footprint. Aligning business strategies with circularity can reap substantial benefits for companies across various sectors.

2. Case Study: Philips Lighting’s Circular Economy Model:

Philips Lighting (now Signify), a global leader in lighting solutions, has successfully implemented a circular economy model, illustrating the potential of circularity in mechanical and electrical products. Philips initiated a circular program called “Light as a Service” that delivers lighting solutions to customers while retaining ownership of the products.

Rather than selling light bulbs, Philips Lighting provides illumination as a service, ensuring proper maintenance, upgrades, and recycling at the end of the product’s life cycle. By transitioning from selling products to providing comprehensive lighting solutions, Philips shifted from the traditional linear model to a circular economy approach.

Implication for Businesses:

Philips Lighting’s circular economy model demonstrates the potential for businesses to transition from selling products to offering services. By retaining ownership of products, companies can ensure responsible end-of-life management, resource efficiency, and reduced waste generation. This shift towards service-oriented business models enables companies to establish long-term customer relationships based on trust, sustainability, and shared value.


The rise of the circular economy presents a transformative opportunity for businesses to embrace sustainability, innovate new business models, and enhance their bottom line. The case studies of Patagonia’s Worn Wear program and Philips Lighting’s circular economy model highlight the significant implications and benefits of adopting circularity – from strengthening brand reputation and customer loyalty to reducing resource consumption and waste generation.

In a world facing environmental challenges and increasing resource constraints, businesses must recognize that the circular economy is not just an ethical imperative but also a powerful driver of growth and competitive advantage. By activating empathetic thinking and embracing circularity, businesses can pave the way to a more sustainable and prosperous future for both themselves and the planet.

Bottom line: Understanding trends is not quite the same thing as understanding the future, but trends are a component of futurology. Trend hunters use a formal approach to achieve their outcomes, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to be their own futurist and trend hunter.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Innovative Solutions for Addressing Sustainability Challenges

Innovative Solutions for Addressing Sustainability Challenges

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

As we grapple with environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources, the clarion call for sustainable solutions has never been louder. Our world is facing a myriad of sustainability challenges that threaten our future and that of generations yet unborn. As a thought leader in the realm of innovation, I firmly believe that the key to effectively addressing these challenges lies in innovative transformations that go beyond mere technological changes.

Part of my conviction draws from different corners of the globe where innovative solutions are breathing life into sustainability efforts. Today, I’d like to share a couple of these compelling case studies to illustrate how diversified innovative approaches can be harnessed to address sustainability challenges.

Case Study 1: Enerkem, Canada

Enerkem uses technology to convert non-recyclable waste into cellulosic ethanol, a sustainable alternative to gasoline. The company’s innovative technology prevents waste, such as plastics and textiles, from ending up in landfills, making a significant dent in the rising global waste crisis. Furthermore, converting this discarded waste into ethanol presents an eco-friendly substitute for fossil fuels, contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Enerkem’s innovation not only solves the problem of waste disposal but also addresses sustainability by providing cleaner energy sources.

Case Study 2: The Seabin Project, Australia

Another exciting illustration of an innovative solution to sustainability challenges is the Seabin Project in Australia—a clear example of how simplifying technology can incite enormous environmental change. This floating rubbish bin collects trash from the ocean’s surface, consequently improving the water quality of our oceans.

The Seabin’s simple design belies its massive potential. By pumping water into the device, debris is drawn into a catch bag, removing trash, oil, fuel and detergents from the ocean surface. The Seabin Project is a perfect exemplar of thinking outside the box to create innovative, simple, yet highly effective solutions to address environmental sustainability issues.


In these two case studies, the underlying thread is clear: innovative solutions hold the power to address our world’s sustainability challenges. Whether it’s through complex bio-chemical processes or straightforward mechanical devices, these stories demonstrate that where we see insurmountable problems, innovation sees opportunities.

Our responsibility, therefore, is to nurture a culture of innovation that can turn challenges into breakthroughs. This means investing in research and education, fostering collaboration across sectors and disciplines, and most importantly, engraining sustainability into the DNA of our societal, economic and political systems.

As we look to the future, there’s tremendous potential for innovation to play a pivotal role in curating sustainable solutions. Each of us, individuals, corporates, and governments, must rise to the challenge, embrace innovation and commit to a sustainable future. Regardless of where we are, or what we’re doing, we all have the power to contribute to this global cause. Let’s harness the power of innovation to sculpt a better world for us and future generations.

In we’re innovative, sustainable tomorrow is not just a pipedream — it’s an achievable reality. Innovation and sustainability can, and must, go hand in hand. Let’s commit to this symbiotic relationship; let’s commit to our planet.

SPECIAL BONUS: The very best change planners use a visual, collaborative approach to create their deliverables. A methodology and tools like those in Change Planning Toolkit™ can empower anyone to become great change planners themselves.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Sustainable Supply Chains

From Traceability to Transparency

Sustainable Supply Chains

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In the era of increased awareness surrounding environmental and social issues, sustainable supply chains have become a key focus for businesses seeking to operate responsibly. As consumers demand greater transparency and accountability from the companies they support, organizations must prioritize the implementation of sustainable practices throughout their supply chain. From traceability to transparency, it is crucial for businesses to ensure that every step of their supply chain is aligned with their values and commitments to sustainability.

One of the key components of a sustainable supply chain is traceability. By tracking the journey of a product from its origin to its final destination, companies can ensure that their products are ethically and sustainably sourced. This not only helps to reduce the risk of environmental and social violations within the supply chain, but also allows companies to address issues such as deforestation, child labor, and unfair labor practices.

A prime example of a company that has successfully implemented traceability within its supply chain is Patagonia. The outdoor apparel company is known for its commitment to sustainability, and has taken significant steps to ensure that its products are produced in an ethical and environmentally responsible manner. By working closely with its suppliers and conducting regular audits, Patagonia has been able to trace the journey of its products from the farm to the factory, and ultimately to the consumer. This level of transparency has not only helped to build trust with customers, but has also positioned Patagonia as a leader in sustainable supply chain practices.

Transparency is another crucial aspect of a sustainable supply chain. By openly sharing information about their sourcing practices, companies can build credibility and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. Transparency also allows companies to identify areas for improvement within their supply chain, and work towards implementing more sustainable practices.

A company that has excelled in promoting transparency within its supply chain is IKEA. The furniture retailer has been transparent about its commitment to sustainability, and has made significant strides in ensuring that its products are produced in an environmentally responsible manner. Through initiatives such as the Better Cotton Initiative and the Forest Stewardship Council certification, IKEA has been able to provide customers with products that are sourced from sustainable materials. By openly sharing information about its sourcing practices and supply chain operations, IKEA has been able to build trust with customers and stakeholders, and position itself as a leader in sustainable supply chain management.

In conclusion, sustainable supply chains are essential for businesses looking to operate responsibly and ethically in today’s world. From traceability to transparency, companies must prioritize the implementation of sustainable practices throughout their supply chain in order to build trust with customers and stakeholders, and demonstrate their commitment to environmental and social responsibility. By following the example of companies such as Patagonia and IKEA, businesses can work towards creating a more sustainable future for all.

Bottom line: Futures research is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futures research themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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