Sustainability: Blending Lifestyle and Workstyle in a Green Business

Last week I wrote about how much of my hard work when I toiled away for a large advertising agency (definitely NOT sustainability-minded) ended up contributing to the problems facing humanity. It didn’t get me much further ahead financially, either.

When I think about sustainability, I’ve come to the conclusion it needs to be something that’s holistic and inclusive of both my life AND my career, livelihood, or, if you must, “job.” It doesn’t make much sustainability sense to have an energy efficient home, drive a Prius and eat vegetarian when many of us — like I once did — trudge off to an office building powered by a coal-fired power plant, help a company sell products or services that were likely to destroy the planet or exploit people, and drink free coffee that was neither organic nor Fair Trade certified. All this to “pay the bills.”

The following chart from our book ECOpreneuring is my wife and my stab at contrasting the mainstream approach of being an employee in a typical company versus the owner of an ecopreneurial “green business”, ideally family scaled and locally-based. After more than a decade of interviews and meetings with ecopreneurs across the U.S., it became increasingly clear that truly sustainable enterprises provide far more than financial renumeration for its owners. These ecopreneurial businesses had owners who blended a sustainable lifestyle and workstyle, often enhancing the environment, their communities and their own quality of life by how they operated their green business.

What’s most striking from the above simplistic comparison is how the company approach seems rather disconnected from both the planet and the well-being of people as a whole. No wonder numerous studies keep finding that many employees are cynical, detached, unhappy, apathetic, and, some, downright angry.

What other aspects of an ecopreneurial life have you discovered that reveal the shortcomings of the highly touted company career in a global free market economy? In reality, there are far more ecopreneurs making the world a better place.

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