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Well,

I think I posted something similar on this board over a year ago, but here goes again...

I quit my job last week, and plan to commit myself to pursuing a sustainable business career. The difference this time, is that I have already started the planning to open a Sustainable Business consulting firm based in San Francisco.

A few colleagues and I got together all day Saturday and listed several new business possibilities, and decided that with our consulting experience, a professional services firm would be the lowest risk, and have the lowest barriers to entry. So away we go!

Our specialty is Product Development/Innovation and Operations/Business Process. Several of us have done this type of work in a consulting capacity for 15+ years. This is also a perfect service to help companies implement The Natural Step framework into their businesses. We plan to base our methodology heavily on TNS and the principles of Natural Capitalism.

So, as we smoke out the details of our service offerings and work on the value propositions we will offer our clients, I'm looking for a few aspiring sustainable companies that would be interested in talking to us to us about starting a pilot project.

Does anyone here work for a company that has a few broken, inefficient, and unsustainable processes ("low hanging fruit") that we could come in and fix? Or, does anyone work for a company that might have some interest in learning about the Natural Step and sustainability?

What new business ideas are purcolating out there on this board these days? It's been very quiet, and I'm hoping to open up and expand the discussions here once again.

Looking forward to any feedback.

Thanks,
Chris
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Chris,

I just finished Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovens, and Hunter Lovens, and have been brainstorming ways for me to work some of the concepts into my career (lots of barriers...). It is great to hear that there are people out there who are actually starting consulting firms out to put into practice some of the ideas. While I can't give you any business, I am interested in hearing about your experience as a consultant. So please feel free to give us updates here are the board.

-Dustin
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While I can't give you any business, I am interested in hearing about your experience as a consultant. So please feel free to give us updates here are the board.

-Dustin


Hey Dustin,

I'm always interested in meeting like minded people, especially when it comes to sustainability. What type of work are you doing now? What are the barriers? I've been reading and thinking about this stuff for 4 years now, and finally feel like I know enough to start a firm. I plan to start small, and grow it sustainably... of course ;-)

What were some of your brainstorms while reading Natural Capitalism?

Chris
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Chris,

While I don't have time to answer all of your questions now, I can definitely tell you a little about myself. I am a transportation engineer/planner, and I have been reading about sustainable economics (right term?) for at least five years now.
I first met Paul Hawken at a Pac Bell stockholder's meeting a few years ago when he came to give a speach to the owners on how they should not be using a specific company (MacMillan Blodel???) to make their phonebooks since they put old growth trees into the mix. I was on the outside back then (with other RAN supporters), so I didn't hear the speach, but I did get a chance to talk to Paul when he came out. Since then, I have kept up with pretty much anything he writes, and I have recommended "The Ecology to Commerce" to numberous people. (Including anyone out there who is reading this...)

As far as some of my brainstorms, they mostly revolve around the concept of mobility services (more info can be found at the <a ref=http://www.rmi.org>Rocky Mountain Institute</a>'s website). Occationally, my work involves redesigning transit and bike routes, and I would love to be in a position where instead I could be working to provide people with "mobility." Anyway, I try to share some more thoughts on that when I formulate them in my head...

In the mean time, I would be interested in hearing about anyone else's background who is reading these messages... What brings you to the Sustainable Business message board here in Fooldom?

-Dustin
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Congatulations Chris, way to follow your heart. You will be rewarded!

As far as processes in need of of your work, I'm currently contracting as a test engineer at AT&T Wireless. Nothing there jumps out at me except some basics that probably apply to almost all companies.

I think that it's often hard for people that are intimately involved in processes to see waste and envision change. For example, the paper mills around here stubbornly cling to a chlorine bleaching process that produces dioxin even though viable low impact alternatives exist and the community is applying pressure. As outsiders, your group will be able to present new ideas and spark positive change.

Anyway, here's a few general improvements that would help out where I work.

With the current electric crunch even here in the land of the dams, I'd love to see a company program to save energy by encouraging all employees to turn off their computers at the end of the day.

The building I work in has a paper and even a battery recycling program, but they both could be improved. It would be great if the battery program encouraged people to bring dead batteries from home instead of landfilling 'em. The paper recycling bins are usually right next to garbage bins and garbage and paper are often mixed up in both. Perhaps a slotted cover on the paper bins and a small awareness campaign would help.

The plastic silverware and paper coffee cups in the lunch room are wasteful, and it would be great to present an alternative.

Hans
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Congratulations, Chris! And bravo to you, my man! I'm in a job shift too, but it pales in comparison to your brave effort!

As for suggs, the first thing that comes to mind is to take a trip to each of your local (Bay Area) landfills. Ask the supervisors for a visit to the working face, but make sure you get permission to sit and watch for a few hours (to get a good sample). Then get out and look around. What do you see? Are there any REALLY large quantities of any particular material? The guys who run the equipment on the working face will know what companies are dumping the large quantities. Then if you can figure out a better way to dispose of the material by reusing it as a feedstock for some other industry, call up the company! I've heard of some stunning business opportunities coming from this sort of vigilance.

As hot as the economy has been in CA for the past five or ten years, there's bound to be lots of waste. And now that the dot-com industry is officially passe (in most folks minds), operations managers should be open to money saving, resource conserving ideas.

Another idea would be to call up the local and state govt agencies that work in pollution prevention, tell them your plans and ask them for business development assistance. They know where the sustainability problems are!

Cheers!

John Quixote
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Great idea to visit the landfill John. Haven't been to one since I used to work for this Mom & Pop Department store building their display cases. What a lot of crap we threw out back then. Those were the high school days of the early 80's. I had no idea what an environmentalist was back then.

I'll report from the dump soon ;-)

Chris
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