Joel Makower Talks Green Business

Posted: Thursday, March 13th 2014 at 1:15 AM

Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group, creator of, gave a talk about business and environmental sustainability on February 17, 2014 to a very responsive crowd. Makower gave a preview of his “State of Green Business 2014” report which described sustainable business trends.

Makower has spent over two decades at the intersection of business (economic) sustainability and environmental sustainability and shared his perspective about what is currently happening at this intersection. Makower first characterized businesses and their relationship to sustainability by describing the majority of businesses as committing “random acts of greenness.” He went on to share that there is a relatively new and important reason for businesses to become involved in environmental sustainability – business risk. These risks include supply chain risk, resource risk, and financial risk.

Students were surprised to learn that many companies are implementing sustainability but not talking publicly about it for fear of being criticized. When companies talk about their improvement, it often appears that they are “doing less bad” and then they are criticized for not doing more. Students were also interested to learn that the U.S. has in the past had a Grand Strategy and that a new Grand Strategy is being developed around walkable communities, regenerative agriculture, and resource productivity.

Other points of interest that students noted were that companies like DOW are choosing to rebuild wetlands rather than build a water filtration. Dow realized that it there were substantial savings to rebuilding the damaged ecosystem and allow it to maintain its own balance over the man-made filtration system. Another student noted Mr. Makower’s statement that if companies had to pay for all of the natural capital they used and environmental impact they generated, profits would be reduced 100%. Students also enjoyed learning about the green business activities of P&G, Microsoft, Levi’s, and Coca Cola.**

Before opening the floor to questions, Mr. Makower challenged members of the audience to determine and ask their “What would it take?” question. That is, consider what their most important concerns were and ask “What would it take?”

To learn more about Joel Makower click HERE or visit his website HERE.

**Thanks to the students of MGT 301 sections of Dr. Susan Williams for their thoughtful reactions to Mr. Makower’s talk.

Here is a playlist which includes the full presentation and then the Q&A session that followed:

Categories: spring 2014 students joel makower green business