Deep breath.  That was a mouthful.  Seriously, I probably should have just left the subtitles out.

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a book.  The last one was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  That’s pathetic as it was in August!   There is good reason for this.  The books I’m currently reading were the aforementioned and Jane Eyre.  I’m about 1/4th through the latter and it’s going to take a LONG time, I’m not really sure I want to finish but it seems like a waste at this point.  I think it’s turning a corner and getting more interesting, thank goodness.

g2gBack to the platter at hand.  Green to Gold is a book by  Daniel Esty and P.J. Simmons.  It’s written as a sequel of sorts to the original book, which covers off on how businesses can go green.  I have not read that book but am told it was one of the defining works in regard to Sustainability/Green Business.  This book is actually more of an implementation plan, and it’s pretty damn good.

It opens up with some descriptions of how larger organizations have systematically assessed, reported on and improved their impact on the environment and, just as importantly, their bottom line.  The great part about this book is that it looks very realistically at the business environment and what is feasible and what isn’t.  The likelihood of a broad based Sustainability initiative taking hold is looked at without any rose colored glasses, and the main driver of getting business as usual altered for the better is what it should be: money.

Turns out that the drastic amount of waste that companies are consistently putting out there is also a really large detriment to their bank accounts as well.  Obvious things such as printing out way too many thing (um, guilty, and I hate it) do cost a lot of cash, but so does the misuse of electricity and wasted materials in manufacturing.  So does inefficiency in all kinds of other operational activity.  It shouldn’t be surprising.  The book advocates using a systematic approach based on the bottom line to gain acceptance of new measures for controlling waste and associated costs.  But it’s realistic.  It shoots for low hanging fruit and quick wins early on the process.

Before that gets started though, a company needs to diagnose it’s overall impact on environment.  This is actually a very large exercise.  It focuses on all different types of GHG emissions and where waste can be minimized or eliminated completely across the business.  It’s a very rational explanation of the project from a professional perspective.  I found this area of the book to be most enlightening and valuable, it really lays out the best way to go through the process.  The company I work for has a much larger contingent of people who do this, and do a very good job I might add, but even for someone who is all on their own, this book really lines it all up nicely.

After the initial explanation of why companies should go “green” and some deliberation on what that means and how to do it, the rest of the book focuses on how to do it in separate business functions.  It covers off on all major functions within a major organization and gives tips (or “plays”) on how to improve, with difficulty level sequentially acknowledged.  The idea of “eco-advantage” is detailed heavily, where a company can actually create a point of differentiation and value through proactively assisting the value chain to become thoroughly concerned with and acting on ways to improve operational effects on the environment.

All in all, this is very good introduction to how to start thinking differently about your business and areas for sustainability.  I’d recommend it to anyone and think it could have some very real impact for the bottom line as well as Mother Earth herself.