Jaws dropped to the floor when I first told my friends and family that I was going to business school. Apart from my complete and utter lack of business attire, everyone was just really shocked and thought I was drastically pivoting. When I told them about the sustainability theme of the MBA their doubts softened, but still they were struggling to identify the connections between my undergraduate degree and the business degree I was about to pursue. I had no such struggles.
I double majored in environmental studies and geography at Villanova University. The first two years of my education were heavily science based and focused on the challenges and opportunities we face as a result of world trends, environmental shifts and anthropogenic forces. I was taking classes like Environmental Chemistry, Global Changes in Local Places, Geo-techniques, Natural Resources, and Environmental Justice. I can pinpoint connections to the coursework of this MBA and those first two science-heavy years at Villanova even though, to the untrained eye, the two may be totally separate worlds. The environmental and business connections continued to grow through the second half of undergrad and are even clearer as I look back on the courses I took in my junior and senior years.
One of my favorite classes was Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS is all about capturing, analyzing, storing, managing, and presenting all kinds of data and layers on top of geographic locations. GIS actually has really strong ties to the world of business and economics. We did projects that examined elements that make certain areas more appealing for commerce. We would even calculate the actual amounts and fluctuation of attention a business could expect to attract depending on what direction it’s storefront faced and the foot-traffic and other characteristics associated with an area. We also looked at degrees of economic success against all kinds of variables in order to draw out possible conclusions or connections.
Although there are huge differences between my undergraduate degree and this MBA, I’m finding more and more ways to thread them together. I hope in years to come this kind of “pivot” will become less dramatic. It is my hope that it even becomes commonplace for people from my academic background or any background that seemingly contrasts to slide into the business realm and begin a paradigm shift. If you are passionate and determined to cultivate a connection from where you are coming from to this program, you can make this MBA work for you.
In the rapidly changing automotive industry, one thing seems certain: the future is electric. From a record number of Super Bowl ads, to Ford’s new charging infrastructure, to Tesla stock surging following the opening of another Gigafactory, firms are jockeying to take advantage of the burgeoning market for electric vehicles (EVs). While this seems like cause for celebration after years of trying to gain traction, EVs are simply the first step in dealing with the larger issues plaguing the auto industry and the future of mobility. Admittedly, it’s a positive step — much like hybrids were an incremental gain on the combustion engine — but larger industry disruption is on the horizon.
Recent excitement and inertia can be traced to rapid advancements in battery technology, an expanding network of charging stations with increased speed, and the success of niche player Tesla. While both battery range and cost have been historically prohibitive, tech advancements have led to an 87% decrease in cost over the past decade while simultaneously increasing their range, as found by a recent report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). It is expected that these advancements will put the cost of an EV level with its gasoline-powered counterpart by 2022, which many experts consider “the point of liftoff” (Deloitte). Automakers are jumping on this, with Ford announcing the construction of North America’s largest EV charging network, “helping customers confidently switch to an all-electric lifestyle”…before they even have a single fully-electric vehicle on the market (Ford). Why? As Ford’s sales decline, Tesla delivered 367,500 EVs in 2019: up an astounding 50% from the previous year (CNN).
So, what’s the problem?
While EVs eliminate tailpipe emissions, they are only as clean as the source of electricity that powers them. Renewables account for a mere 17% of total electricity usage in the US, making the shift to EVs not quite as clean of a solution as it initially appears (C2ES). Further, as demand for EVs rises sharply over the coming years, the demand for electricity to power them will follow suit, increasing the strain on America’s antiquated energy infrastructure (which recently received a D+ rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers). The future of the auto industry and its push for electrification rests on the ability of the nation’s electricity grid to keep pace with growth. Given recent failures in California, the risk to the industry is already on display. But maybe this type of issue is just the impetus that the renewable energy sector needs to achieve liftoff of its own.
What is abundantly clear is that a transition to EVs ignores the larger issues facing mobility. Rapid urbanization, gridlocked city centers, and the rising costs of owning a car in these areas are the main drivers of change. The emergence of services like Uber, ZipCar, and Waymo One have meant that consumers can increasingly rely on a combination of public transportation and ride sharing services instead of owning a car at all. In fact, it is estimated that US auto sales will decline a staggering 40% by 2040, which paints a pretty stark picture for the auto industry and the need for change (McKinsey). EVs do not provide a solution to these broader issues.
The intent of this post is not to pour cold water on the enthusiasm surrounding the undoubted progress being made by the auto industry. In fact, investment and innovation are both at all-time highs. Rather, it is to make a broader case for sustainability: one that is both strategic and long-term. Yes, the future appears to be electric, but it is also shared, autonomous, and data-driven. Consumers seem to be ready for this transition, but critical infrastructure must be too. As Auto 2.0 enters a make or break period, the industry must get key strategic decisions “right” in order to stay relevant. Firms are starting to realize that their best chance of doing so is by breaking down traditional rivalries and moving forward together. Here’s to hoping that electric vehicles are just the first step.
I remember I was 10, when I watched the cartoon network show ‘Captain Planet’ for the first time. It was a show about teenagers who would team up with Captain Planet to keep the spirit of the earth (‘Gaia’) safe. Eerily, little did I imagine that I would live to see the destruction that was only imagined in a cartoon show, come to life. I started my journey at 21, with a nonprofit for animals. It was the most pristine love I could have ever imagined. As life went on, I pondered being another version of ‘Captain Planet’ and 10 years, and millions of happy animals later I hope to expand the course of this odyssey.
driving forces of everything I do in my life stem from uplifting the distanced
and forgotten in our world. To me, at this juncture, the environment including
waterbodies, land and air combined with the quickly disappearing animals of
today are of immediate concern. I am especially passionate about aiding
frontier markets with sustainable business solutions addressing their immediate
environmental problems using environmental business and sciences. I am
passionate about effective solutions that are about more than band-aid
remedies, a panacea for most difficulties if you will. This includes creating
business solutions for developing countries that especially address their
This is especially
important as developing countries struggle as their environmental degradation
is a result of the last priority given to it. Countries like India place such a
high importance on the development of their economies, that this often comes at
the cost of environmental disregard. The lack of facilities for waste
processing, soil health, water health and air quality are quandaries we are all
too familiar with. The existing large corporations do very well on empathetic
marketing to get their products in these markets – however rarely ponder the
consequences of their products. The lack of knowledge, education and concern
for the immediate environment and the widespread effects of an impaired
ecosystem cause relentless practices, that destroy the planet far more rapidly
in these places.
Since economy and
survival is at the center of these communities, I plan to permeate through
these issues, in ways that are coveted. To introduce a way that is sustainable
and utilizes environmental gains as well is a triumph in my eyes. From
environmental impact measurement, strategy, finance and restoration; I hope to
beget measures that will gradually change the way business is done. More
specifically I intend to do this by working within consulting companies before
venturing out with my own consultancy, as well as business incubator a few
years down the line. In this way I plan to start working with corporations,
businesses and entrepreneurs to introduce business in these markets. The
intentions of these businesses while economy driven of course, will not be to
create new markets, but instead disrupt current markets and gain existing
market share. Additionally, authentic intentions and shared value creation will
be at the core of these solutions.
renewable energy, soil sequestration or pollution control practices – the
businesses I will work with will combine environmental engineering, science and
business. The merit of being able to affect all three facets of environmental
well being in this way not only widens the scope of my practice but also
satisfies my altruistic tendencies. I was often told growing up, that I need to
hone my focus on one thing, and that I cannot fix everything in the world.
While adult life has made me utterly aware of the fallacies of my childish
fantasies, I think I have found a way to address this dilemma.
At the core of it
all, I believe that we are transient beings in a home that we stay in for a
little while. Our gracious host is currently sick and needs more from us. I am
hoping I can influence enough businesses and people across the world to join
this movement and that one day my aspiration to be ‘Captain Planet’ will be
It is common knowledge
that carbon emissions is a major contributor to the climate impact crisis. It
is even more common to hear about the reduction of carbon emissions to mitigate
What about the carbon
already in the atmosphere? A common solution to develop carbon sinks is to
plant trees, which is a great start to replace the deforested area. However, as
the population grows and more land is converted into cities, we need to
re-assess the previously suggested solution.
During our first semester in the SI-MBA program we were introduced to the following equation regarding human impact to frame what factors affect this developed by Commoner, Ehrlich, Holdren:
As established earlier,
the population is expected to continue rising with estimates of world
population reaching 8.5 billion by 2030. Similarly, affluence (or
consumption) of people will continue to increase as developing countries are
increasing their GDPs, which is commonly used as a proxy to judge consumption.
Finally, technology represents the resources required to produce the units of
consumption, thus increases with affluence.
So, what’s the solution? Simple algebra can reframe this equation to our benefit and reduce the human impact:
This equation represents
that using our resources efficiently can significantly deter our impact. A
resource that we are currently failing to make more efficient is the soil.
Carbon naturally belongs in the ground and is the prime factor that creates an
efficient ecosystem within the soil.
The image identifies
fundamental concepts behind regenerative agriculture, however, these holistic
practices are not currently applied by majority of farmers as they believe it
is not financially feasible. A common misconception in the farming community,
especially within developing countries, is that monoculture farming will
generating the highest revenues. Though this may have been true in the early
days, with strong soil health and support from large enterprises such as
Monsanto, those practices have depleted the soil of its natural benefits.
Contrary to the
misconception, those farmers who implemented regenerative agriculture practices
have rejuvenated their land, which paid dividends through higher crop yields
and greater soil health for future generations.
A caveat in this
solution, it needs to be applied at a local level. On the other hand, the food industry
is a globalized market with customer demands for exotic foods continuously
In order to deal with this supply short, the solution is glocalize the food
supply chain, which refers to the production of native crops at a local level
to meet the demands of global scale. This requires co-ordination between
farmers so that an individual doesn’t face the burden / risks associated with
This is my case to create
a platform for farmers in their respective countries to the power of
agriculture back in their hands and regenerate their land, reduce the human
impact, and provide hope for future generations.
2019 may go down as the year that the world began to “wake
up to the climate emergency.” Inspired by climate activists such as Greta
Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, the non-violent youth climate movement became
a global phenomenon that starkly highlighted the apathy and inaction of the
political class in most developing and transitioning economies.
Despite some recalcitrance
amongst those aged 55 and older, acceptance of climate science is spreading. Climate
change is a scientific fact, and it’s happening now. It will unpredictably
ecosystems and biodiversity, thereby affecting people who depend on their
environment for ecosystem
services such pest/ disease control and provisions such as food and water. As
the world warms, diseases will spread. Heatwaves will become deadlier.
Coastlines will erode. Species will die out.
We must confront our temporally-,
spatially-, and ecologically-distributed responsibility to individuals,
nations, future generations, and the other species with which we share our
planet. Scientists accept that reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a
requirement to keep the global temperature increase to below 2°C
in keeping with the 2015 Paris
Climate Agreement. The disagreements now stem from what to do next.
One common refrain from political leaders — like Donald
Trump — opposed to the Paris climate targets is that some countries are disproportionately
expected to do the heavy lifting of reducing emissions, which is seen as a threat
to their economies. The US has stated that it will withdraw from the Paris
agreement on November 4, 2020, one
day after the 2020 US Presidential election. However, this argument ignores
the global and intergenerational
dimensions of climate change; even though China has higher annual emissions
at present, the US has historically contributed the most GHGs in total. The US, along with other GHG polluters,
are therefore attempting to “pass
most of the burden of their activities to people in other parts of the
world and the future in unfair ways.”
The other ethical phenomenon at play is the tragedy of the commons: as governments
and industries act
selfishly and short-sightedly, they “deplete a freely available shared
resource, against each of the parties’ long-term interest.” Most GHG polluters
face no penalties, while the public pay the costs of pollution and climate
change through loss of ecosystem services and impacts to health and well-being.
In addition, there are skewed
vulnerabilities at play, where the countries whose emissions levels have historically
been the lowest are those that may be amongst the most vulnerable to the
effects of climate change.
It is therefore imperative that large economies acknowledge
their proportionate culpability for the effects of climate change, as well as their
responsibility to the peoples and ecosystems affected. In addition, we must absorb
the lessons of indigenous people around the world, whose observations of the
dynamic equilibrium of natural ecosystems have given them an “equanimity
and optimism” to better adapt to the coming ecological and societal disruptions
wrought by climate change.
Understandably, this word has been vilified as it becomes more and more apparent how its mismanagement may define our generation. It is painfully clear how damaging this resource can be in the natural ecosystem. As such, I won’t spend much time on that discussion. Instead, I would like to offer up a different take – one that embraces the word. These synthetic materials boast a tremendously impressive and valuable quality; they all are plastic in nature because they are easily shaped or molded. From a manufacturing standpoint, they are highly adaptive and can be purposed and repurposed to serve different needs under different conditions. Although some promising programs are beginning to emerge, on the whole, the industry’s management of recapturing the value of their product has not looked for inspiration in the product’s defining adaptable nature, and has instead practiced the status quo for far too long.
As I reflect on the first few months in The Sustainable Innovation MBA program, it is hard for me to shake the word. Initially, I felt like I shouldn’t acknowledge my work history that I shouldn’t talk about plastic production in a sustainability program unless I had to. I quickly realized this was the wrong approach. My work background includes project development, management and sales of plastic packaging. My job was to develop and create products that don’t have adequate or appropriate disposal methods. Many single-use medical device packages inevitably would end up thrown away and/or incinerated. The “Take, Make, Waste” model was, and still is, being practiced. Movement away from this model is on the rise and conversations centered on a circular economy are materializing. When I think of the greatest take away of this program so far, I can’t help but think to the adaptability I have been forced to hone, how essential it is for my own career and how this level of adaptability will need to be utilized for a successful transition within the plastics industry.
These past few months have been truly transformative. Like
many, I decided to pursue an MBA for a variety of reasons. I was looking to
outfit myself with a “toolkit” comprised of a variety of skills that would help
bolster my career while simultaneously setting a foundation for using business
as a vehicle for substantive social change. Ultimately, I was seeking to better
understand financial statements, canvass business strategy and evaluate the
feasibility of my own crazy business ideas. For the purpose of strengthening my
resume and making myself more marketable, I understood these skills to be most
critical. It has become apparent, however that my ability to adapt, to be
reshaped according to new conditions and embrace plasticity in my career
approach and personal development has been my greatest take away of the program
My education in adaptation started the first day of orientation. Transitioning back to life as a full-time student after a five-year academic reprieve did not occur overnight. It was difficult and it was exhausting, but innate in the program’s structure were lessons I can reflect on as defining moments which have made me a more adaptable student, employee and citizen.
Prior to starting in the program, I would have incorrectly identified myself as being adaptable. I would have cited some lesson learned on the mini-tour golf circuit about how important it is to approach novel problems (like sitting 40 yards off the fairway with the pin nowhere in sight) with calm, optimism and creativity. The primary distinction between this example and the adaptability required in SI-MBA and moving forward toward a more sustainable future is the notion of playing with others.
Within an intimately sized cohort of 30, we are assigned to module
learning teams. Groups of 3-4 students are hand selected to build diverse
groups in an effort to reflect real world working environments and prove that
highly diverse groups are more likely to solve increasingly complex problems
than their more uniform counterparts. We then tackle assignments in every class
together. This team experience inevitably differs for everyone but illustrated
to me areas where I should improve, be more flexible and help encourage others
Without a thorough understanding and appreciation of this
soft skill, hope for a more sustainable future seems bleak. Across every
industry and profession, a need for highly adaptable individuals will exist and
SI-MBA has uniquely outfitted myself and my fellow cohort members with a
distinct ability to roll up our sleeves and roll with the punches. I am
confident this lesson in adaptability will serve us well as we venture beyond
the classroom and face many of the same problems that drew us to the program a
few short months ago.
During my lunch hour recently, I skied Goat, one of Mt. Mansfield’s famed Front Four trails. For a few precious moments before making my descent, I gazed across Stowe Mountain Resort (where I am very proudly employed) to admire stunning Spruce Peak. In the distance, she glistened a triumphant, sparkling white thanks to a fresh coat of snow. Sadly, there is strong evidence that this vista will become increasingly rare in the future.
sports industry in New England may have just hit middle age. That’s according to reports that predict only
four out of 14 major ski destinations in New England will be viable by 2100 due
to warmer, shorter winters.
Mountain Resort, the historically rich and iconic “Ski Capital of the East,”
will need to rely heavily on snowmaking if it’s going to survive. Stowe (as the resort is colloquially known
and not to be confused with the town where it’s located) is comprised of Vermont’s
tallest summit, Mt. Mansfield, and it’s neighboring little sister, Spruce
Peak. Having just celebrated its 87th
year in operation, Stowe may have about as many years left before climate
change profoundly impacts one of America’s most storied ski destinations.
nurtured and inspired some of the greatest achievements and economic
developments in the ski and snowboard industry.
Its first trails were cut on Mt. Mansfield by the Civilian Conservation
Corps in 1933. A year later, the Mt.
Mansfield Ski Patrol was founded, the precursor of what we now know as the
National Ski Patrol. And by 1940, Sepp
Ruschp, the legendary Austrian ski instructor who also coached UVM’s and
Norwich University’s ski teams, established the Mt. Mansfield Ski School at
Stowe, which is still one of the most highly regarded training programs in the
country. For those who enjoy
snowboarding, the late Jake Burton Carpenter took turns on Mansfield and will
be remembered as one of the Town of Stowe’s most notable and beloved residents
with his wife and business partner, Donna.
Today, Burton Snowboards is one of Vermont’s most celebrated brands with
a global presence spanning across the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
Stowe Mountain Resort, which was recently acquired by Vail Resorts, attracts
ski and snowboard enthusiasts from around the world and supports the
livelihoods of thousands of Vermonters both on and off the property. The town’s picturesque village of
independently owned boutiques, restaurants, inns, and myriad sports shops owe
much of their success to the mountain.
Builders, architects, lawyers, and property managers are sustained by
Stowe’s robust real estate market that is largely driven by out-of-towners
seeking vacation homes. To put it in
perspective, a whopping 17% of Vermont properties are second homes, which are
often owned by outdoor enthusiasts, skiers, and snowboarders. Stowe School District is one of the best in
the state, thanks to high home values bringing in substantial property taxes
that have enriched the town and its public education system.
business world, Mt. Mansfield is also home to some of Vermont’s last remaining
acres of Arctic-Alpine Tundra. This
fragile ecosystem supports countless flora and fauna that are unique to the
area. As the length of winters recede,
so will the delicate balance of life existing high above the rest of Vermont.
All of this could melt away right before our eyes, drastically changing the future of Vermont, both economically and ecologically. As more greenhouse gases are released into the environment, we will likely be confronted with the loss of one of Vermont’s greatest assets: its long, cold, snowy winters…including the $900 million in direct winter spending generated by the state’s ski and snowboard destinations and related businesses.
response to looming profit losses, business closures, and dwindling resort
locations, industry advocates, such as Protect Our Winters (POW) and the
National Ski Areas Association, are lobbying federal, state, and local
governments to enact environmental policies to slow or reverse the progression
of average rising temperatures.
Meanwhile, the International Ski Federation has also signed on to the UN
Climate Change Initiative. Vail, which
is by far the largest ski resort operator worldwide, has initiated its
“Commitment to Zero” via its Epic Promise Foundation. By 2030, it has pledged that all of its
properties will operate using zero-waste and carbon-neutral technologies. Burton Snowboards, which was recently
designated as a B-Corporation and is actively accounting for its sustainability
goals, has partnered with the Epic Promise Foundation when it hosts the annual
U.S. Open Snowboard Championships at Vail.
Since 2017 it has operated the event carbon-neutral with limited waste.
remains, however, that we’re facing an uphill battle. 2019 witnessed the highest level of carbon
emissions to date. The past decade has
also been our warmest in recorded history, with the most elevated global
temperatures occurring over the past five years. Furthermore, enacting pro-environmental
policies continues to be a battle. The
withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Accord and the rise of
climate change skeptics in leadership positions across governments and
corporations have hindered or even eliminated environmental and climate
right here in Vermont, our ski and snowboard industry is at a precipice.
taking in the glory of Spruce Peak, I edged my tips over Goat and made the
first of many turns down the fall line to the base of Mt. Mansfield. Along the way, I thought of the pioneers,
entrepreneurs, and the incredible businesses and value they created. Could they have even imagined what our
winters are facing? And are we truly
equipped to conquer the fragile, uncertain, and ungroomed trail that lays
Anne Wallace. “Study: Vermont Is No. 2 Nationwide for Second Home Ownership.” VTDigger, 6 Aug. 2019, vtdigger.org/2019/08/05/study-vermont-is-no-2-nationwide-for-second-home-ownership/.
Heather. “Most Ski Resorts in Warmer New England May Disappear By 2100.” Connecticut Public Radio, 7
Feb. 2014, www.wnpr.org/post/most-ski-resorts-warmer-new-england-may-disappear-2100.
Andrew. “The 2010s Will Go down in History as Earth’s Warmest.” The Washington Post, WP
Company, 5 Dec. 2019,
Eleanor, and Deborah Byrd. “Atmospheric CO2 Hits Record High in May 2019.” EarthSky, EarthSky.org, 17 June
“Vermont Ski Industry Rebounds to Nearly 4 Million Visits.” Vermont Business Magazine, Vermont Business Magazine, 15 June 2017, vermontbiz.com/news/june/vermont-ski-industry-rebounds-nearly-4-million-visits.
Wobus, Cameron, et al. “Projected Climate Change Impacts on Skiing and Snowmobiling: A Case Study of the United States.” Global Environmental Change, Pergamon, 3 May 2017, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378016305556.
While home over winter break my family and I wanted to spend a day in New York City so we thought a museum would be a great option. We ended up going to Arcadia Earth in downtown Manhattan which is a pop-up museum dedicated to sustainability. It was amazing.
There are 15 different interactive rooms to go through, each with a unique design and message. In every exhibit there are boards with statistics and information telling the reader about a specific issue related to the displays. Each art piece helps contextualize the scope of an issue in an incredibly creative and visually appealing way. The topics they discussed ranged from plastic use, polluted oceans and resources used for cattle farming.
All the messages were given in an easily digestible way for people to grasp as well as understand the scale in which some of these issues are at. Examples of “how much plastic we consume?,” or ”How old are the apples in the supermarkets?” are some of the information that keeps people interested since if affects their daily life. Also as you walk through the rooms, you use the app that utilizes Augmented Reality to increase interaction as well as offers more information for participants to understand the topic. The AR shows schools of fish swimming next to piles of trash and many other visuals. My favorite room was the plastic bag cave created out of 44,000 upcycled plastic bags. It was visually stunning to see the sheer number of bags and the use of mirrors and lights made the cave seem never ending.
It was really interesting to go with my family to see how people react to this way of vocalizing some of our worlds issues since I have been involved in sustainability since I was a sophomore in high school and the rest of my family has an average understanding. I have heard a lot of the information that was given in the museum but I know my parents haven’t so I was watching their reactions as they read the data. It was amazing to see how disturbed they from what they read and how the exhibits were able to help them visualize the issue. I am sure that many other visitors were also mind blown by the data they were reading and will be able to bring that home with them to help improve their habits.
With so much information coming at us in present day, it was great to see people putting their complete focus into the museum and really internalizing the data. This museum is a great way to leave a lasting impression on people with its stunning visuals, interactiveness and simple message.
Arcade Earth is located at 718 Broadway in New York City.
Since the craft beer boom of 2012 started, many brewers across the country have found it hard to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Many have tried to create new and inventive brews and invest in a tap room where customers can come to the brewery and learn more about how the process is done while sampling the products.
But, in recent years the focus has shifted from inventive and innovative products and experiences to differentiation through the process by which the beers are made, with many breweries investing in the sustainability of their product and manufacturing lines. They can do this in a multitude of ways as complex as installing a device called an anaerobic digester to recycle wastewater that the brewery produces, or as simple as working with local farms to use their spent grain as food for a variety of livestock. Some breweries in the UK have even experimented with using stale bread from local bakers as a starter for their beers, limiting the amount of barley or hops that is needed.
With that being said, there is still room for innovation when it comes to the energy used in the brewing process along with the distribution and supply chains linked with the operation of the brewery. Many large scale consultancies such as SustainaBrew are working to refine a sustainability plan that works with the nuances that are inherent with brewing and selling beer, as laws and regulations differ from state to state, limiting the amount of barley or hops that is needed.
Environmental sustainability isn’t everything though; social responsibility has seen large growth in the brewing sector as well. Take Switchback Brewing for example. They recently shifted from a single ownership model to being 100% employee owned, allowing every single one of their employees to have a meaningful say in how the business operates and what decisions are made on a day to day basis. This has led to a company that operates like a family where everyone is vales and each person employed by the brewery is committed to seeing it succeed.
While it may seem like a no brainer to some,
many others are still very wary of implementing these strategies for
sustainability as they do run quite a high upfront cost, and can take a lot of
resources and time to implement, with no guaranteed pay off. However,
in a recent study produced by NPR it was shown that consumer’s
willingness to pay increases when the breweries they are purchasing from are
utilizing sustainable practices, something that is not necessarily true for
other products in the marketplace. What is it about the brewing business that
lends itself to this outcome? I believe that it is the client base and the
values that they hold. The craft brewing industry has grown through, and is
held up by the purchasing power of the millennial generation, a young consumer
base that has sustainability at its heart and chooses to make purchasing
decisions based on their values.
The proof is in the pudding (or perhaps beer in this case). Sustainability efforts in the brewing industry has positive effects on the world, the people who buy the product and work in companies, and, finally, the bottom line. There is only more to come in the future.
I was working in field research for a local conservation group or serving as a
legislative representative for a national environmental organization, I loved
my time in the nonprofit sector. No matter where I was, I was surrounded by
mission-driven people, my work gave me a sense of purpose, and I was always
proud to answer the standard icebreaker “so what do you do?”
real reason is: I was tired of fighting for change, but not seeing an obvious
plan for its impact or scalability. I was tired of “doing good” by rules that
limited how much good we could do. I wanted the chance to take risks for
something I believed in.
Dr. Erik Monsen’sCrafting the
Entrepreneurial Business Model class, I was introduced to a TED Talk by
activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta called “The way we think about charity is
As Pallotta points out, nonprofits are rewarded more for not acting like
businesses (such as severely restricting overhead spending – “For
every dollar donated, 83 cents go to the cause!”) than for what impact they have.
From inherent rules limiting nonprofits’ ability to competitively compensate
staff, market and advertise to generate revenue, or access capital markets to
spur growth, the nonprofit sector is at a disadvantage to the business world in
almost every way.
add further limitation, nonprofits are systematically discouraged from taking
risks. Risk, which always carries some chance of failure, is a generally
unacceptable use of charitable dollars. And as Pallotta puts simply: “When you
prohibit failure, you kill innovation.”
other words, there is a reason there is no “venture capital” of the nonprofit
world. No one is looking to make large donations to a nonprofit that wants to
take chances, invest in its own growth, and pursue unexplored, better ways to
make and scale change.
until we can foster a nonprofit sector that operates under fewer limitations, fighting
for social and environmental change from a business angle may offer greater
opportunities to create positive, scalable impacts. (That is, as long as
businesses commit to doing so meaningfully.)
the meantime, I’ll be here reading anything written by Vu Le at Nonprofit
bicycle commuting in my Allbirds sneakers, and pursuing a Sustainable
Innovation MBA to be a part of this business evolution.