07/25/2013 02:02 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

sustainABILITY Simplicated Step 1: Smart Is Sexy

Co-authored by Suzanne Pinckney

Sustainability represents a multi-billion dollar revenue opportunity, along with a healthier and happier existence for us all. sAs offers 7 Simple Steps to Sustainable Business Growth.

Stay tuned here for playful, practical, and profitable action advice every week.

sAs Step 1: Smart is Sexy

"A problem well put is half solved." -- John Dewey

Finding a solution requires first recognizing there is a problem.

Here's the problem: We're using up too much stuff, too fast, and in a way that harms us all.

Every natural system in the world today is in decline. The resources we rely upon to sustain life as we know it are all in decline. As world population continues to skyrocket, the demand on those same resources is increasing exponentially.


At this rate we're gonna go down way faster than the dinosaurs....

Finding a way out means making tough choices (at least at the beginning). It means kicking some nasty habits. All the "what were we thinking?" stuff, like spraying our food with pesticides...

Even if you've seen it already, stop now and watch The Story of Stuff before reading any further.

This is the best place to start to better understand just how unsustainable we've become.

No, really, stop reading and check it out. It's worth the time.

--------- movie intermission ---------

Now that you've seen the video, we want to be clear:

We're not on the side of 'doom and gloom'. sustainability is about the opportunity. The opportunity to turn all that around and get on track. The opportunity to sustain our selves, our natural environment, and our businesses, while having fun in the process.

And this brings us to the Triple Bottom Line (TBL). If you're in business, you've no doubt heard this term, but you may not be entirely clear on it's meaning. Here's the simplicated definition:

Triple Bottom Line = People + Planet + Profit

You can think of TBL as a 3-legged stool; if you're missing any of the Ps (the legs), the stool can't stand. Therefore, a solid, long-term business plan will positively support all three simultaneously.

And how does a business do that? Check out the action steps below to get you started. And check back here weekly for more.

Action: Lunch & Learn

Call a lunch & learn movie break within your company and show The Story of Stuff. Break the 21-min movie up into three parts (pause times: 7:35' and 16:45'). After each pause, have everyone turn to the person next to them and discuss:

1. What impacted you most?

2. What was new to you?

Give pairs about five minutes to discuss. Then popcorn around the room for key insights, which you can then put up on a flip chart.

Trust us: This is the best way to engage and educate initially. There's no agenda, just some information and space to discuss. Plus, who doesn't love an excuse to watch a movie at work?

Thanks so much for leaving a comment below to tell us:

What impacted you most from the Story of Stuff; and,

What was new to you?

Then go share with others and let us know how it goes. Share any tips or tricks that made your lunch and learn even better!