Green to Gold
by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston
Yale University authors Daniel Esty and Andrew Winston offer a primer on the factors that have created the green economy, and a rationale for joining that economy, in this bottom-line-oriented book. Geared to business owners and top managers who are looking to find opportunities in the coming business sea change, this book is concise, well-organised, and easy to read.
After covering the environmental, historical and financial drivers of the green economy, the authors argue that the green wave is fuelled by two forces: environmental stresses and a world of people who are insisting that the business community take action in response. The winners in this race will be the early adopters – those businesses that figure out how to make green change profitable.
Moment of opportunity
Early adopters will view this green wave not as a difficult challenge, but instead as a moment of opportunity to gain a competitive edge. The gold that companies can realise from having a workable, practical environmental strategy include:
- innovative, breakthrough products that drive customer loyalty and higher revenues
- new-found eco-efficiency that slashes operational costs
- anticipation and management of serious business risks
- higher “intangible” value of soft benefits such as innovative culture, increased brand credibility and trust.
Green to Gold explores eight detailed “Green to Gold” plays that resource-intensive companies such as BP, IKEA, Toyota, Ford, McDonald’s, 3M, Chiquita and GE used to save money, create a new image, and reduce their environmental impact.
It examines Toyota’s meticulous development of the hybrid Prius automobile and how it transformed the brand; how 3M made a pact to cut pollution, a decision that initially cost millions but in the end generated far more than that in profit; and how McDonald’s successfully changed its packaging to limit environmental impact.
“There is a shift happening and it’s being accelerated by the business community,” said Winston in a recent interview with United Press International. “We’re seeing more people take it on in their personal lives, in part because of what they’re doing at work.
“A value shift will come, not from consumers asking companies, but more from companies teaching their employees and teaching consumers. The ripple from big companies asking other companies, their suppliers, to be greener is one of the critical forces.”
The authors write: “Companies using the environmental lens are generally more innovative and entrepreneurial than their competitors. They see emerging issues ahead of the pack. And they are better at finding new opportunities to increase sales by helping customers lower their costs and their environmental burden.
“As the business world wakes up to the fact that many natural resources are finite, a second reality is emerging in parallel: limits can create opportunities. Companies that manage nature’s bounty and boundaries best will minimise vulnerabilities and move ahead of their competitors.”