Growing up in New Hampshire, I took many class trips to Stonyfield farms, but as a child didn’t grasp at what was going on with the company, or how big it would get. At the time the farm, while a viable business, was still very small. Now I live in NC, 1000 miles away and drink their milk. Gary Hirshberg talks about how his company’s dedication to sustainability has been able to drive out costs and bring in revenue. Below are 5 principles that he feels are key to scaling green/sustainable business, that even scale to business making 100′s of millions of dollars.
1) Be activists where we shop
Hirshberg stated that consumers have to drive the demand, so we all must do our research and make sure that we’re buying the greenest product (which might not always be the local product).
2) Recycling means we’ve failed
Businesses have to figure out how to reduce and reuse so that recycling is unnecessary.
3) Organic is not just for the elite
Organic foods often seem like they’re only available to those with enough money to buy them, but Hirshberg is adamant that it doesn’t need to be this way. We need to make organic foods affordable for everyone.
4) Design sustainable products and packaging
Hirshberg noted that Stonyfield Farms recently switched all of its packaging to plant-based plastic. He stated that while that reduces the company’s oil consumption, corn isn’t a perfect option. So they ensure that they counter their footprint with GMO offsets, which goes to literally paying GMO corn growers to switch to non-GMO corn.
5) Engage in politics
Hirshberg pointed out that the five largest agriculture interests spent $28 billion on lobbying since 2008. Organic businesses have to get active too, pushing for the regulations that protect the environment and businesses together. He also noted that we have to become more open source — Stonyfield Farms keeps no secrets, letting their competitors know their moves because they feel this will lead to faster advances on sustainable practices.
Here are two videos, shorter version first, longer second. they are great videos by the CEO (CE-Yo, for yogurt) talking about being sustainable and the business case for it.