According to Wikipedia, the “Triple Bottom Line” is an accounting framework with three parts:
- Environmental (or Ecological)
- Financial (or Profit)
In my experience – and how we built our company – it is more than just an “accounting framework.”
It is the “WHY” we started our business.
The Triple Bottom Line guides many of our decisions we make in our day to day work.
I will start in reverse order of importance to us for this illustration. Mostly because profit is pretty well understood by everyone.
Profit is the bottom line everyone is aware of already. This bottom line causes people to hate giant corporations, and also the part people fret over the most when running a business.
But, profit is vitally important. Without profit, you are unable to execute the other two, and most important, parts of the Triple Bottom Line.
Profit gives you the ability to help social and environmental causes. Every kind of business out there needs to make money. The money you make on the profit portion of your bottom line is the catalyst for everything else.
Social & Environmental:
For us, the social and environmental pieces of the Triple Bottom Line are of equal, and grave, importance.
We buy and sell our products with intention.
We only purchase coffee at a price fair to the farmers.
We only choose farmers who treat the land with respect and understanding. They know nurturing their environment is just as important as harvesting their crop.
Do higher standards cut into profit?
We could buy super cheap beans grown with massive amounts of fertilizers and pesticides and pay the farmers little to nothing. We would make a lot more money per bag if we did this.
Not for us.
We could also save a significant amount of money by choosing a cheaper box supplier, but that doesn’t work with our Triple Bottom Line. Luckily we have found one who also cares greatly about the Triple Bottom Line. The supplier we have selected uses 100% recycled paper, focuses on energy and water conservation, and has a commitment to reducing landfill waste and greenhouse gas emissions – a company after our own heart.
We make all of our operating decisions through our lens of the Triple Bottom Line.
We also go a small step further. We want to use the power of business to change lives and protect the environment.
We do this by planting a tree for every bag purchased in places of deforestation with the help nonprofit partners.
We choose these partners carefully because we want to make sure:
- The trees are actually being planted (of course)
- The people planting the trees need the work. By paying people to go out and plant trees, we help empower them to make a change in themselves and their community.
In addition to the trees planted, we donate 1% of all sales to grassroots environmental organizations. This helps to ensure the organizations who fight to protect the environment are able to continue to fight day in and day out. You can read more about 1% for the Planet’s efforts HERE.
I was talking to a potential vendor early on in our company planning and told him our plan. His response was, “I have never been able to figure out how companies can start off giving so much of their profit.”
I just smiled and said, “We are giving it our best shot because we believe in its power to bring about change for the good.”
But what I wanted to say is “How can we not do this?”
Businesses have a great opportunity to very easily give back to the world so graciously. From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to run a business that gave back and did something good for the world.
Are you buying from businesses that give back and help make the world a better place?