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Typically, when we think about “sustainable business,” we concentrate on corporate social responsibility (CSR): energy efficiency, reduced carbon footprint, recycling and reuse, fair treatment of employees, and charitable giving, among other considerations. Most of the sustainable business programs, in the universities that have them, are corporate focused. Yet, corporations are not the only variety of sustainable businesses.
Sometimes sustainable business is manifested in the activities of startups and small businesses that pursue double and triple bottom lines. These are mission-driven companies that are dedicated to being socially responsible from their inception, unlike most (though not all) corporations that pursue CSR for marketing purposes or to cut costs and increase profits. While there is value in doing the “right” things, even if it is for selfish reasons, there is a certain purity about these social enterprises that has a special appeal for those of us who cherish people and planet as well as profits.