Book It!

There is a lot to know and understand about Sustainable Development. Here are some books that may help. I’ve included practical “how to” books, along with books that provide context and insight.

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist
, Ray Anderson (2010)

Ray Anderson and Interface, his billion dollar carpet company, showed everyone what embracing Sustainability can do for a business. This is the single best book to learn what Sustainability actually means in an applied sense. It also demonstrates how broad the scope of an industrial Sustainability initiative can be. And it provides an outline of how to go about such an initiative.

Green to Gold
, Daniel Esty and Andrew Winston (2006, revised 2008)

Green to Gold Playbook, Daniel Esty and P. J. Simmons (2011)

Green to Gold
, for the most part, presents the advantages of “folding environmental thinking into strategy”. The fundamental idea is that environmental concerns are not simply an unwelcome incremental cost of doing business. Rather, embracing environmental initiatives results in a robust avenue to competitive advantage that the authors call Eco-Advantage. Green to Gold then provides an action plan for achieving Eco-Advantage.

Green to Gold Playbook
builds on the earlier book by providing the specifics (examples and resources) necessary to develop and execute an individualized Sustainability plan, designed exclusively for your business.

The Ecology of Commerce
, Paul Hawken (1993, revised 2010)

In this book, Paul Hawken eloquently expresses the fundamental relationships between business and the natural world. It reveals the essence of the meaning of Sustainable Development. This book is not an anti-business tirade. Rather, it is thought provoking, rational and hopeful. The Ecology of Commerce is worth a careful reading. Or two.

The Truth About Green Business
, Gil Friend (2009)

Gil Friend leads a well known Sustainability consultancy. His book expresses individual aspects of Sustainability as succinct “Truths”. Each of the 50 – odd “Truths” draws on real experience. These easy to digest “Truths”, taken together, provide useful “how to” information for construction of a viable Sustainability plan.

Natural Capitalism
, Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins (1999)

Hawken teamed with the principals from the Rocky Mountain Institute to elaborate on “natural capital”: the bounty from the natural world that industry takes for granted. Chapters 2 and 3 are especially pertinent. Chapter 2 is on next generation automobiles like those the new fuel efficiency mandates for 2025 will require. Chapter 3 looks at waste — the numbers will knock your socks off, as will the opportunities they present.

Cradle to Cradle
, William McDonough and Michael Braungart (2002)

This is the key book on Green design. The essential idea is that, through careful product design, environmental impacts can be dramatically reduced. The title refers to planning product life cycle not from raw materials to land fill; rather from raw materials to the end of product life reuse as feedstock for new products.

Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout
, Patrick Moore (2010)

Dr. Patrick Moore is a founder and former President of Greenpeace. After 15 years of high profile environmental activism, Moore left Greenpeace to pursue a course of “sensible environmentalism”. Some particularly interesting points from this book: (a) Dr. Moore’s experiences with Greenpeace provide in inside look at how an activist NGO works; (b) In the opening chapter, Moore clarifies the origins of Sustainable Development; and (c) Moore contrasts Greenpeace’s position on many current environment issues with those of a sensible environmentalist.

Your comments are always welcome. Click on the title of this posting to open the comments section.

…  Chuck