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Triple play

Industry News

A focus on the triple bottom line makes people, planet and prosperity top of mind at Bland Landscaping.

Kristen Hampshire | December 16, 2011

Environmental responsibility isn’t something Kurt Bland wants to necessarily measure. He’s not keeping score. “I don’t have a carbon emissions calculator,” he quips. “And our employees volunteer, but that’s an honor system, I don’t track their hours.”

Bland’s practical approach to sustainability is no less of a commitment to doing good. It’s just that he recognizes that his company must be profitable so it can do more good – the basis of a triple bottom line (TBL) approach to business.

“The profit element has to come first, and that enables you to do good things,” he says.

But sometimes you make decisions because your gut tells you that mindfulness outweighs money. Take Bland’s choice to use alternative biodiesel oil rather than regular gasoline, which costs about 20 cents less per gallon. For a company that uses in excess of 120,000 gallons of fuel per year, the price difference is not a number to ignore.

“While we are feeling the economic pressure, a banker or purist (in economics) would say, ‘That is foolish. You need to go back to using plain, old petrol diesel,’” Bland says. “But biodiesel is something I believe in and my business partners – my dad and brother – believe in it, too.”

Every decision can’t be profit-driven. But then again, if there isn’t profit there to play with, there are few decisions to make. “We can’t lose sight of how our decisions affect other people and the economy and the community,” says Bland, essentially summing up the people-planet-profit premise of TBL.

As for the planet portion, Bland Landscaping was one of the first companies, and the very first business in the green industry, to earn Green Plus Certification through The Institute of Sustainable Development in Chapel Hill, N.C. The certification demonstrates a commitment to TBL and is essentially a curriculum owners work through on the road to bettering their businesses. 

The certification involves a questionnaire and activities designed to improve the bottom line, overall efficiency of the business and, ultimately, help create a more sustainable company.

For Bland, the sustainability factor was pretty much ingrained in the business; the certification just made it official. This is probably the way for a lot of organizations, he says.

“I believe that most business owners aspire to own and operate a responsible business,” he says. “Some of them may not have the knowledge or tools or expertise to earn themselves more recognition, but at the end of the day, I think people are inherently good and because of that, they will make responsible decisions when running their businesses.”
 

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