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The triple bottom line refers to the three areas of concern for the successful and responsible operation of a company. It is often referred to as a stool with three legs: the social, economic, and environmental legs. All three must be in balance for the stool to function properly.
The triple bottom line is a reaction to the simple statement, "the bottom line" which refers to the economic benefits to the company. This is often used as the sole or over riding focus of a company. The triple bottom line requires a shift in thinking and acting. All decisions are made with a concern for people, the environmental impact and the economic benefits. The corporate culture becomes one where short term money making is not the only goal. The company integrates the balancing of social and environmental concerns into all decision making.
One concern is that using an integrated triple bottom line thinking will have a negative effect on the economics of a company or culture. But, the net effect of using the triple bottom line is an improvement across all three legs. So, even the strongest advocate for the traditional bottom line approach can celebrate the results of a triple bottom line approach.
People can use these principles in their personal lives as well. We can consider the social, environmental and economic effects of our choices. If we assess choices with triple bottom line thinking, would we buy goods from nations with poor environmental protections or with human rights violations? Would we live in suburbs and drive gas guzzling vehicles leaving a huge carbon footprint on the planet? Some of these issues are deeply established in our culture and therefore create a daunting challenge. But, each positive step we take will be a part of the shift to an integrated responsible way of living.
Here at Easy to be Green we are working to help Interior Designers use triple bottom line thinking to design with concern for people, the environment, and the economics of their businesses and the clients they serve. Together we can shift our thinking and acting, paving the way for a sustainable future.