What is the Triple Bottom Line?


If profit is the goal of our economy, what does it mean to profit? $$$ in your bank account?

Is that really it?WCL10

If you think like me: profit not only means additions to my cashflow, but positive benefits to the people who make the things that I value, and regenerative inputs to the environments which cultivate the things that I need.

See, I can be self-interested–In fact–the MOST self-interested! By seeing the triple-bottom-line.

This is because, in contrary to the popular notion that it is the generation of money alone that fuels the economy–the economy is completely dependent upon social communities and ecological systems for the inputs necessary for not only business, but for life itself.

Global ecosystems and local people are threads that comprise the fabric of the economy. And that fabric can only be stretched so thin and mined for resources and energy for so long until it has nothing else left to supply to us as consumers. We must have a restorative economy fueled by sustainable inputs in order to create a society that functions well beyond peak oil and the upper limits of finite natural resources like arable land and freshwater that are inevitable.

So, what is the triple bottom line?

It is a business ethos that respects the cyclic nature of the ecosystems that sustain us. Just as Akil outlined in the last blog post: “Our community benefits from taking simple, everyday actions that align with our beliefs.”

If you value fair-wage employment, fossil-free transportation, and all-natural products–you can choose to utilize services that implement those values into their business model, rather than more “conventional” services that create profits by reducing labor costs, importing chemically contaminated products, and guzzling cheap oil.

The city’s most salient instance of a Philadelphia-bred business that honors people, planet and profit can be found in one of the dirtiest industries: laundry.

Wash Cycle Laundry is not only the most effective way to avoid one of the most annoying chores of daily life, it is a way for Philadelphians to support a true triple-bottom-line mission with a service that is beneficial of it’s own volition. If I told you that you could spend $20-$30 to do a week’s worth of laundry without having to lug it to the cleaners, wait for hours, and fold it yourself, that may well be worth it even if they didn’t deliver by bicycle or use locally-produced detergents!

This model, which incorporates the preservation of people and planet into the bottom-line–while still being profitable in the face of conventional economics–is a model of Benefit corporations found across the nation. B-corps are building a growing movement towards corporate social responsibility and ecological justice.


Jake pedaling down Spruce St!

As more and more individuals become more and more aware of the impacts of not only their actions, but the impacts of the companies they purchase from, consumers are awakening to the fact that everything is connected and their purchasing power really is quite powerful.

So, whether or not you use Wash Cycle Laundry, consider the impacts of your purchases. Is your money not only where your mouth is–but where your heart and mind know to be true?

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